A current drifting mantra of mine is Wellness. In eastern Asia I get to take advantage of incredibly affordable saunas or more accurately herbal steam. Sauna, herbal steam, I’ll happily take whichever I can get. It’s called a sauna when in essence it’s an herbal steam. Although that’s just semantics.
While steam rooms tend to be on offer, you have to locate them. At the same time, massage parlors tend to be everywhere, especially in the radius of a downtown area.
I have a good-enough $9 a night room slightly outside the town center. This is a miraculous deal. The best traditional sauna that I’ve found in this city is only a five-minute walk from where I’m staying.
Rustic saunas or herbal steam facilities can be found in any city in Laos.
The Wi-Fi is poor in my room as it’s at the end of the ultra-clean eight-room hallway. I love the enhanced wellness of cultures that make people take their shoes off before stepping inside. This is the the East Asian way. I’ve assimilated this into my personal culture since for me, it makes absolute sense.
The Slow Wi-Fi Sparked a Revelation
Maybe it’s better to not always have Wi-Fi in the room. Silence has to sometimes be healthier than podcasts and a mind-numbing abundance of infinite information that I believe can cause anxiety. When I want get online, I can move to the breezy main area, where the Wi-Fi functions fantastically.
The afternoons get very hot in July. That is not an understatement. One caveat for the touristy town:
Because of the dense Mekong humidity, it feels many degrees hotter than the actual temperature. Thank goodness for the rain to cool things down.
While walking towards the sauna I felt hot. I’d sweat profusely for about 18-minutes in total there the day before. Getting in there again on a consecutive super-hot afternoon felt like too much for my already heated body. So, at the thought of wellness I decided I’d go for a massage instead.
There doesn’t tend to be a shortage of massage shops. While many locals seem to love their deeply-embedded massage culture, there tend to be more massage options where there are tourists.
Massages in this part of the world are considerably more affordable than in the western world. On top of that, the region arguably has the best massage know-how on the planet. Massage art has been an intricate part of the culture for centuries at least. Consequently, the massage a person gets here is more-than-likely going to be more qualitative than other regions of the earth.
I’m not sure the therapists are certified like they need to be in a western land. I doubt it. But every massage here has been blissful. The masseuses work magic with their hands, nails, elbows, wrists, feet and bodies. They create yoga-like stretching positions. At times it’s like acupuncture. Sometimes you can feel a little bit of pain or awkwardness if they push too deeply into the skin.
Every massage is different. It depends on your massage therapist and which massage you order. Like a snowflake or a goal scored in soccer, no one massage will be ever be the same.
So I turned around and walked towards town and stopped at the first massage shop I saw. The girl handed me a menu with around 10 options. I opted for a traditional massage. It was the cheapest, but more importantly, I chose the standard cultural option.
She had me sit down while customarily washing and lightly scrubbing my feet in a little tub. I removed my foot one at a time to be placed on her lap and dried with a fresh white towel.
I was led up a few stairs and into a room that had three massage beds. I was given a loose pair of shorts to change into. She checked back a minute later. I was set, with my shirt on. I don’t think that was her intention but I figured it might be a good idea; although I wasn’t sure.
Most massage places are legitimately for therapeutic massage. That is what I had in mind and this is typically what I’m offered. Almost always.
Should I try to maximize wellness and take advantage of options that arise? Absolutely. And I believe that this is the best massage region on the planet. What an opportunty to for adding wellness.
Lying on my stomach she started with a fantastic foot massage and then worked on the lower legs, at times digging very deeply but not too hard, like a man’s hands may. She went deeply into my calves at about the threshold where I still didn’t feel pain, but perfect pressure.
She went back to my feet while using a tool to help access pressure points. I felt little jolts throughout my body.
We didn’t talk. She just smiled a little bit. I mostly kept my eyes closed and tried to focus on long deep nasal breathing and breath holding, while aiming to stay focused on the part of the body that was being so pleasantly manipulated.
Breathe in what is happening right now. Breathe out what is not.
She was wearing shorts. At times part of me would feel her silky-smooth legs, especially when she was sitting up on my legs massaging my buttocks. While massaging my inner thigh she didn’t go overboard, like a small percentage might if they’re signaling that they think you’ve got extra money to pay for what could be labeled: a ‘happy ending‘.
This particularly pretty woman didn’t make anything obvious and didn’t overly massage the inner thigh and crotch area.
It didn’t matter where her hands were on my body, the electricity felt magical.
For a man, this is where things can get complicated. For multiple reasons I didn’t want it to be sexual. Wellness was the mantra. But I was a guy showing up alone during the low-tourist season.
Life revolves around money. There are zero handouts. People need to make do and wages haven’t changed from their already super-low amounts, even though costs have doubled.
Tourism is needed. Who wouldn’t want a piece of its economic pie?
She may have been 45-minutes in. I’m not sure exactly. Ideally time is not existent while getting a therapeutically fuzzy massage. She got a phone call and didn’t excuse herself, just stopped, took the call and talked for less than 30 seconds.
Feeling tingly throughout, I was completely content with a break.
No words were uttered. She resumed. The wellness worker continued to find pressure points I didn’t know I had. The elation throughout my body continued to rise. This was a completely legitimate massage.
Maybe two minutes after the call, another young masseuse casually walked in. Then I saw there were two of them on the bed right beside me. One was massaging the other, her buttocks, upper, and lower legs. The two attractive young ladies had shorts on.
A Purely Blissful State of Mind Turned to Surprise
I’ve had a fair amount of massages in recent months. This episode was a first.
Everyone was pleasant. The superb massage continued. My upper body, arms and hands were being worked on. First she did the arm/hand opposite the ladies on the bed beside me.
Just as I had been doing before the other two arrived, I tried to continue putting my head back with my eyes closed, and to focus on breathing, All the same, my curiousity got the better of me. I couldn’t help but glance over. One lovely lady was rubbing, pushing down, digging and accessing my pressure points while I was watching another perform a massage on her adorable friend just centimeters away.
At one point, I saw the girl being massaged get up and motion on all fours. She may have been mimicking a sexual position. She appeared petite and perfect. The words ‘kama sutra‘ flashed in my mind.
I turned back, closed my eyes and tried to breathe. I still couldn’t help but look over again. They were speaking in the local tongue when I thought I’d heard in the middle of it all: Openpussy. The other attractive masseuse was looking right at me while I thought I’d heard those eloquent words come from her elegant vocal cords.
It must have been a direct translation from the local tongue.
This was completely unexpected.
As she said it, I wasn’t 100% sure I heard it right but how could I have imagined that? I’d never heard an expression exactly said that way. Otherwise it didn’t seem like they knew English. But this was a tourist town. This shop was near the city center. Many speak some English.
The dreamy massage went on. My body felt electric and completely relaxed. I wanted to express gratitude. I felt fortunate to be immersed in this wondrous feeling of wellness.
The masseuse working on my hands and arms switched sides. She sat up beside me and held onto the top of my shorts and pulled them up gently, tightening them.
She then massaged my arm that was next to where the other massage was taking place. After massaging my hand, she moved it onto the silky-smooth upper back thigh of the massage recipient next to us.
Then she pulled up lightly up on my shorts again and chuckled lightly.
It all took me by such surprise that I didn’t know how to react. So I continued to do nothing and let the magical massage continue.
The girl eventually had me sit up so she could finish with a swift performance on my head, neck, shoulders and back, while having me face the other massage so it was right in front of me.
She finished and said:
She walked out and closed the door. My entire body was tingling, but I was also a little bit shocked. I thought:
Life’s possibilities are limitless. You can never know what’s going to happen. The unexpected will occur.
The girl was still giving her friend what looked like a soothing massage. I needed to change out of their shorts and into my boxers. Perhaps I should have done it right there. It wouldn’t have mattered. I don’t know what would have happened though.
Feeling great, I opened the door, stepped into the hallway and changed quickly.
After returning to the two lovely ladies, I deliberately operated very slowly in putting my pants on and getting my stuff together. I smiled and tried to make small talk, telling them how great I felt and how good the massage was. Deep down inside, I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want the experience to end.
But instead I said:
The masseuse smiled.
I couldn’t help but think:
Imagine the possibilities if I learned the local tongue.
Downstairs I paid the masseuse and fuzzily added what I’d later calculate to be a 44% tip. She was confused and so was I. I tried to convey something along the lines of:
The rest is for you.
She made me feel so good that I felt the need to tip, although I don’t think it’s necessarily customary. But for such a service, I felt it was the right thing to do. I felt euphoric.
The 44% must have taken her by surprise. Normally I’d tip around 20%. I went overboard because I wanted to keep the karma good. After all, I’d enjoyed an unforgettable hour. Still, in hindsight: there’s no reason to tip so much as it’s not the cultural norm and I really should frugalize those drifting dollars as much as possible.
I went to the entrance and put my shoes on. Then I turned and smiled, said thanks and see you later.
I was mesmerized. As much as I may have enjoyed what they had in mind, it felt awkward. I can’t know how much money they might have wanted and for what exactly. I suppose the service(s) could have been haggled.
I felt the need to maintain my personal integrity. I don’t want to be a part of the ‘flesh for money human subculture’.
Although these young ladies tend to learn how to become very good masseuses, for the small percentage who are willing to sell their feminine flesh, it has to be all about the money. Money feeds families.
Good or Bad Trauma
One side of me is traumatized because I turned down what looked like it could have been a heavenly arrangement. Something like this doesn’t come up often. Actually it’s the first time it has.
The other side of the trauma lies with the fact that people sell their bodies for money. Imagine all the strangers a person such as that might copulate with? I wish that things weren’t that way. If you disagree, that’s completely OK. There is no right or wrong.
What is morality, integrity and reality? It depends solely on an individual’s perspective.
While the vast majority of massages I’ve had have not offered extras, I was in a major tourist center. I don’t know the intricacies, but I’m pretty sure that most of the massage culture here is just that, massage.
In my opinion, economics is a dogma. People need money. Perhaps selling one’s body is the oldest fastest way to get it. This human nature happens throughout the earth.
Whether I believe it to be morally right or wrong, I am not going to change the world. I can only accept it.
And as for the ancient wellness art of massage that probably originated in what is modern-day India, there is no doubt that it can produce a fairy-tale feeling that makes a person feel fuzzy, well and happy to be alive.
Have you ever been left with a fuzzy feeling during and after a therapeutic massage? Feel free to leave a comment below.