I’d been threatening to have a massage sometime of this holiday but hadn’t quite got round to it until we landed in Siem Reap. Whilst in Phnom Phen we’d read in the newspaper that massages were readily available in town and so when we arrived at our hotel we checked it out. The newspaper had suggested that out of hotel prices were around $10 so when we saw that they were $15 in the hotel it didn’t seem to be worth the effort to go seeking for them in town.
As this first day was the only time when we were going to have free time I went to reception and booked myself in for a one hour traditional Khmer Massage at 4.00pm. I mentioned that I didn’t want a hard massage and was assured that it wouldn’t be too hard and then was introduced to the young masseur. She smiled and giggled a little to her colleague when I confirmed that I didn’t want a severe massage.
So after a swim and a little relax I headed off for the massage treatment centre. Now that’s a bit of an over statement because it was actually a tent in the grounds of the hotel. On route I deliberated changing the treatment as I’d re-read the explanation in the hotel room. It had said, "experience this true ancestral massage which includes kneading, frictions, effleurage, stimulating cupping and hacking techniques ". Now I was getting less keen on the "hacking" and hadn’t a clue about "effleurage" until I checked it out on the internet and saw it meant "to skim or to touch lightly on in a series of massage strokes to warm up the muscle before deep tissue work". Well that didn’t sound too bad but I was still not sure about "hacking" and I wondered about "deep tissue work".
By the time I got to the tent I’d decided to go with it and risk the consequences. The standard welcome of praying hands and a slight bow were exchanged and then I was almost ceremonially led into the tent. A large pair of trousers and a blouse type top were presented to me and I stepped out of my shorts into these trousers. They were huge and they were looped around my back and then tied by the young masseur. Having put on the top I was invited to lay down on my back.
Now I’ve never had a "dry massage" before so this was going to be a fresh experience and soon the young woman was kneading my feet and applying thumb pressure to the soles, pushing my calves and pummelling my patella> She must have worked on the left leg for 10 minutes or so and then she turned her attention to the right hand side. Same process before moving to my left arm which was gripped, pulled and stretched and fingers pulled and cracked. My right arm was then attended to before I was asked to roll over on to my front whilts she pushed my buttocks and pressed heavily on my spice, twisted my neck and pulled my legs up as far as they’d go. I nearly shouted "I’m not double jointed, you know".
Just as I was relaxing I was told to sit up whilst she did further work on my next and then into a full head massage, giving particular attention my ears, nose and forehead. Then suddenly all was finished and I laid back down to relax.
I had been leant on, pushed, pulled, twisted, manoeuvred and stood on. She used her elbows, her feet, her finger, thumbs and arms. At the end I’d been pummelled and felt that I was going to be well bruised in the morning but I was refreshed, relaxed and glowing and some of the accumulated aches and pains from the last few weeks of sightseeing had all but disappeared.
The next day I actually felt fine, no bruising, no new aches but unfortunately some of the "sightseeing aches" had persisted. Well the massage didn’t claim to be a miracle cure for all aches. I enjoyed the new experience, but in truth I much prefer a more gentle oil based massage aimed at relaxing the tired body.
Not sure I’d opt for this type again.