Chiang Mai, Thailand must be massage central because there are more spas and massage clinics in this town than restaurants, guesthouses and tour operators put together. During one walk I counted more than twelve in one block – so its kinda my own personal heaven. But with such volume also must come differentiation. And while I blogged last post about the massage I had at the prison-run massage clinic, this time I am going to review treatments I had at a massage center than employs exclusively blind practitioners. The place is called “Thai Massage Conservation Club” – sounds fancy.
According to local rumours, blind masseuses have a heightened sense of touch due to their hindered sight and therefore have better intuition when it comes to finding those sweet spots and knots. I had heard about a spa in Paris with the same premise called “Dans La Noire, so I was prepped with intrigue. You may have heard of it, I think it has the same owners as that famous restuarant where you eat completely in the dark. Well, this was no chi chi Parisian spa – it was a very modest massage centre with a bit of rough around its edges. That doesn’t phase me though – I’ll get a treatment in a mud puddle if you can work out my back ache.
Unfortunately, my massage did not work out my back ache at all. In fact it was quite bad – repetitive without enough pressure and well, boring. It was obvious my masseuse had not had any formal training and was winging it. How disappointing! But because of the open concept that Thai massage places have, I could see other practitioners doing some pretty great work and their clinics were cooing with pleasure. This one man kept moaning loudly – and I could hardly contain my envy.
When I came out of my treatment I was quite cranky. As a beauty professional myself, there is nothing more annoying than a bad service – and on top of that, I had so wanted it to be good. Think about where Gordon Ramsay gets his anger…same place. After about an hour of pouting, Ben put his foot down and said that I was going back the next day to try them again and request the masseuse responsible for all the cooing. So I did – I made an appointment with “Mr. Soat” first the the next day right before my flight back to Bangkok.
Well, it was amazing – one of the best massages I have ever had. Great pressure, rhythymic and fluid. Even movements that are deliberately jerking were graceful, like the snap of a whip. At one point he was picking up my knots between his fingers and snapping them back. It sounds shudder-worthy, but it was fantastic. I left feeling spaces in my back I hadn’t felt in years.
My experience at the Thai Massage Conservation Club was like anywhere else – some practitioners are good and some not so good. I don’t know if there is any truth in the the idea that blindness makes massage therapists better, but Mr Soat definitely had a special talent and focus. So, if you are ever in this part of Thailand and need some post-trek rejuvenation, I’d recommend requesting him…or just follow the cooing.