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Thailand

On excessive heat, humidity, and the virtues of Thai massage

I’ve experienced heat and humidity in other countries, but somehow it just seems thicker here, as though it has a presence of its own. Even when I sit in the shade enjoying a light breeze, it sidles up and sits so close that it touches my skin and then breathes its hot breath all over my body. I would like to make peace with its presence, but so far it is an unwelcome travel companion. One of the worst parts is what it’s done to my appetite. I was looking forward to treating Bangkok like my own personal buffet, but all I can manage is bits of cold food throughout the day. This morning I did my best to eat an authentic Thai breakfast, which consisted of savory dumplings and noodles. It’s sitting heavily in my stomach and will likely be the most substantial thing I eat all day.

Yesterday I spent some time shopping along Khao San Road, which is a popular backpacker spot full of shops, restaurants, and street touts. Compared to my experience in India, the local merchants, touts, and tuk tuk drivers seem blissfully tame and far less interested in obtaining my business. Even the common phrases such as “You need tuk tuk?” and “Come and look” sound listless and wilting, as if the speaker isn’t convinced that winning my attention is worth the effort of speaking. They must surely be affected by the heat, although I’ve yet to see a local with more than a hint of dew upon their brow, while foreigners sweat with the exuberance of a gushing stream.

After shopping, I treated myself to a two-hour Thai massage, which is an experience that no visitor to Thailand should miss. A Thai massage is a much more active experience than the Swedish variety that is the norm back home. The masseurs put more of their own body into it—using their body weight, their forearms, and even their feet—to knead your muscles and stretch your limbs. My masseuse was a cute little Thai woman who seemed to marvel at my ability to stretch without eliciting the sounds of cracking joints. She seemed to take it as a personal challenge to get some sort of noise out of my bones and vigorously stretched and pulled and twisted until finally she heard a sound that made her feel she’d done her duty. When I was done, I felt as though I had a combination of massage, yoga, and a chiropractic session all in one. Thai massage parlors are as populous as street vendors and are offered so inexpensively that you can easily afford to get addicted to them. In fact, I enjoyed mine so much that I’m going back again today 🙂 I think I am going to need to be limber before the bus ride to Cambodia tomorrow, which I hear is a bit…bumpy.

Although the political environment is still very tense here, there were no major standoffs or scuffles yesterday, so I’m hoping tonight will be my chance to visit Patpong Night Market. We’ll see what happens.

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About colleen finn

Colleen Finn is a globe trotting, sight seeing, day tripping, frequent flying traveler with a penchant for voluntourism.

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