On or Off?

I am spidered out…this morning shrieked at what turned out to be my hair…

I have been here several weeks and I still have not completely understood the etiquette behind taking your shoes off. Before I left on my trip I read a lot about Thailand on the internet and I knew I would need to take my shoes off when visiting temples but nobody mentioned that I would have to take them off in other places like pharmacies, travel agencies, currency exchange booths, clothes shops, dentists, laundries or hairdressers. Most hotel staff will take them off when entering your room and it is interesting that now I am used to this I get quite peeved if they come in with their shoes on. Like they are not respecting my space. Once, totally justified in my eyes, I found myself getting exasperated when late at night security staff were fiddling with their shoes before entering my room and I was like “…never mind, forget the shoes, just come in…hurry and deal with the snake in the bathroom before it hides somewhere!!…” 

The place you always take them off is at the massage parlours. And there are tonnes of them. Everywhere. The girls normally sit outside inviting you for a massage as you walk past them. Invariably though, they are eating and chatting to each other and it is difficult not to feel like you are interrupting something. This is a massage with a difference though. Back home, you get a massage with a view to relaxing, here it is almost a social thing. For a start, the massage room is communal so there will be other people getting a massage at the same time and no doubt the masseurs will be chatting to each other. Or like in my case there will be a toilet flushing every ten minutes, somebody on the mobile, two guests having a conversation or a phone game pinging every few minutes. So forget relaxing. The aim here is to loosen your muscles. And believe me, those elbows will find muscles you didn’t know you had.

Gorgeous Massage Sala, Koh Samui, Thailand

Gorgeous Massage Sala, Koh Samui, Thailand

Most wash your feet with plain water, sliced lime or with a lemongrass scrub when you arrive. A few have wonderful massage salas where you combine the massage with a breath-taking setting. So far the best massages have been here in Koh Samui. It is one of the few places where they have taken care of the elevation of my feet and posture during the massage without having to ask. One is a little massage place run by 3 smiling women. They are merciless though and some of their moves remind me of rolfing. It is painful to the point of tears but the next day you feel the difference. The other is run by this charming Thai woman who speaks really good English. She is said to have magic healing hands, so…I am going back tomorrow…I know it is somewhat decadent to have a massage practically every day. But at £8 an hour, wouldn’t you?

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