1. The social type: This is the chatty type. She will immediately ask where you come from, if you speak Thai, if you are in a relationship etc. She will chat with you during the massage and she will have lively conversations with her fellow Thai Massage therapists who are working in the same room.
She keeps her mobile phone next to her and she will take any call. Either she will stop the massage until she is done talking or she will hold the phone with one hand and massage you with her free hand.
She is not really focused on what she is doing and sees the massage scene as a perpetual social gathering. It might really annoy someone, but there are clients who actually enjoy this party atmosphere.
2. The brutal type: This is the kind of therapist who loves to dig into people with elbows and knees. He or she works rapidly and without any sensitivity or subtlety.
If you ask for extra attention to a specific tight area of your body, the “therapy” will consist of a merciless elbow attack and maximum pressure until you wince in pain. If you complain about the discomfort, the therapist will tell you authoritatively that pain is good for you.
3. The hopeless massage mechanic: This is the therapist who has learned a specific Thai Massage sequence and administers it to every single person who is unlucky enough to come under his or her thumbs. It is the one-size-fits-all massage.
Everyone gets the exact same session, and if you ask for specific work on a certain area of your body, the therapist will acknowledge it and then proceed to give you the usual routine without regards to your request. The session will feel superficial and mindless.
4. The on-the-hunt therapist: This is a woman who sees her massage job as a good way to find a western boyfriend. She is convinced that all westerners are wealthy and that they are the ticket for a life in luxury in some land where the streets are paved with gold, where nobody has to work and the government hands out free money to all citizens.
She will ask you very quickly if you have a girlfriend. If you say no, she will tell you that she is looking for a western boyfriend and that she wants to go to America.
5. The last straw therapist: This is a woman who is middle aged and has a hard time finding a job. In Thailand women from their mid-thirties on often have a real challenge competing with younger women for jobs. Most employers go for the younger girls.
Massage is one of the few jobs which can be done by people who have no education or skills in other areas, and where age is not such an issue. It pays better than basic low paying jobs and it offers the opportunity to snag a rich westerner. (In the Thai’s minds, all westerners are wealthy)
6. The golden touch therapist: This is a Thai Massage therapist who has a wonderful touch that can make you feel like you are in heaven. It is someone who has really sensitive hands and can feel what is happening in the client’s body.
This tends to be someone who is a skilled therapist who likes his or her work and has a good reputation and many clients who seek her/him out. Such therapists are in the minority, and once you find one, you have a great asset in Thailand.
7. The true healer: There are some therapists in Thailand who get truly amazing results with their work. They can perceive and read energy, and their work goes way beyond a massage session.
Such healers are shamans, bodyworkers and energy workers all in one, and they are extremely rare and very hard to find. They do not advertise and they do not work in the tourism industry. Often they are very simple people with no formal education, but they have an almost magical talent.
8. The sleezy type: These are women who provide massage with added benefits for extra pay. They are the ones who gave Thai Massage its sometimes dubious reputation. They might be qualified therapists, but they sell other services as well.
You can often recognize them in the major tourist areas by the clothes they wear, their makeup, their painted fingernails, and their seductive attitude. But they do exist outside of the tourist areas as well.
It is a fact of life that massage and prostitution sometimes overlap, and not only in Thailand, but all over the world. But this does not diminish the value of Thai Massage. It just means that it can be used for healing, for relaxation, for sexual opportunities, just like many things in life.
A knife can be used to cut bread or throats. It does not make the knife good or bad, but it does reflect on the one who holds it.
Thai Massage is a wonderful art, and my hope is that after reading this article you are now better equipped to make a choice which is right for you.
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