Three nights, incredible sights, and one fight in Bangkok

WARNING: The following post has nothing to do with microfinance, microwaves or microphones. Not even Micro Machines. That said…                

I was in a fight yesterday.

Yesterday, I lost that fight.  Badly.  It wasn’t even close.  It was one of those, “was he even trying?” or “he’ll never walk again!” kind of beat downs.  The worst part was, I paid for the privilege of this fight. 

Having left the States on May 26th on my way to my 10 week fellowship in Indonesia, I scheduled a three full day stop-over in Bangkok, as I had never been to Thailand (nor any other part of Asia for that matter).  Knowing the “popularity” of Americans abroad, I did my best to keep a low profile while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Bangkok.  But I swear, this fight found me.

Here’s how it happened.  After two days in Bangkok, I had enjoyed touring the incredible wats (temples) and bustling markets by day and spent the nights with some street vendor pad thai, karaoke bars, a good book by the pool and massages.  The incredible thing about Bangkok, and maybe many parts of South East Asia, is that an hour long massages cost about $7.  Seven bucks?  Seven bucks!!!  Having enjoyed a foot massage the first day and an aromatherapy massage the second day, I felt ready to branch out and try the last option on the list: Thai massage.

Now let it be known that the Thai are world-renowned for their massage techniques and have a bevy of massage schools all around Thailand, especially in Bangkok.  I deduced that receiving a Thai massage in Bangkok would surely be an epic experience, akin to enjoying gelato in Italy or singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley Field.  This was going to be fantastic!

So I walked to the massage parlor by my hostel and was greeted by a smiling 4’11″ Thai woman, which for the purpose of this entry we will name Davida.  Davida took one look at my 6’4″, 200 pound lot of elbows and knees and said, “You really tall. This going to be fun.”  Not sure what to think, I calmed myself by remembering that I also enjoy fun.  Davida instructed me to take my sandals off, have my feet cleaned by another masseuse and then lay down on the massage bed.  Obediently, I did just that.

And then the fight started.

The gentle kneading and relaxing shiatsu that had started off my first two massages was replaced instead by three swift Chilean chops to each calf, which I was later explained helped to increase circulation.  If increased circulation helps spread pain, then I reckon it to be a highly effective technique. 

Over the next hour, I was submitted to various forms of elbowing, stretching, slapping, kicking, kneeing, punching, pummeling, poking, pulling and even some mangling.  As it turns out, traditional Thai massage was not intended to be a “feel good” technique and instead was designed as a form of therapy to release locked-in stress and tension.  It was such an intense mix of pleasure and pain that midway through, I began to laugh uncontrollably.  It was almost like the scene in Fight Club where Brad Pitt demands to get punched and keeps asking for more after each punch, punctuated by a semi-psychotic laugh that freaks out his abuser enough to make him flee the scene.  But Davida did not leave.  And sadly, I am not Brad Pitt. 

The fight was highlighted by what surely is Davida’s signature move, where she sat her 80 pounds on my rear, grabbed hold of my arms and then craned back to stretch my back, as I hysterically laughed in pain.  Together, we looked like an oversized toboggan with a small child on it holding the reins. She then proceeded to do the same move, alternating between my head and shoulders.  For those of you old-school WWF fans seeking a better visual, think Sgt. Slaughter’s “Camel Clutch” move against Andre the Giant in the late 80′s. 

And after that (and a few tissues for my tears)… the hour was over.  Davida had slain her Goliath.  And this Goliath, although still sore as hell, and now newly equipped with a healthy phobia of undersized Thai women, loved every minute of it.
So that is the end of my first blog.  I apologize for the long read, but I can’t say that won’t happen again. I’ve been told that I’m allowed to write about ALMOST anything in this blog… so I’m going to take Kiva’s word on that.                

I’m definitely looking forward to getting started in Indonesia and will post again with more relevant subject matter once I get situated.  Until then, I’ll try to stay out of any more fights, but again, no guarantees.                  

You stay classy Kiva,


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