Spirit of Thailand

Spirit of Thailand

Culture, Relationships,
Thai Massage, Traveling

The Magic of Touch in Chiang Mai Bus Station

Chiang Mai bus station

 The main bus station in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Does this Thai bus station look like a place where magical events take place? In my case, this is exactly what happened. At least it felt magical to me. There are some events in life which we never forget even though they happened a long time ago. It might have been a little thing, a kind word, a helping hand, a truly happy or beautiful or magical moment. In my case it was a simple heartfelt touch.

Young Thai monks waiting for their bus

Young Thai monks waiting for their bus

Next to me sat a middle aged Thai woman. She kept glancing at my efforts with my ankle, and after a while she spontaneously stood up, went to a shop in the bus station and bought some tigerbalm.

She came back, grabbed my foot, put it on her lap, applied the cooling balm and started massaging it. She tried to say something in Thai, but our efforts in communication were hopeless since she did not speak any English, and in those days my Thai language skills were practically zero. So we just smiled at each other, the universal language.

After a while she had to catch her bus and left, smiling and happy that she had helped me, and I was just overwhelmed by the fact that a total stranger gave me a spontaneous foot massage in the waiting area of a bus station. It was such a simple and heartfelt act of kindness, and it was a moment which I will always remember although it happened about 14 years ago.

I wonder if this woman knows that her simple act of kindness reserved her a permanent space in my heart and mind, and that she gave me a memory that makes me feel good every time I think about it for the rest of my life?

Before you think that this is normal behavior in Thailand, you should know that Thais generally don’t touch each other in public. Massage is the one exception.
Click here to read a post explaining what kind of touching is considered acceptable and which one is just not done in Thailand.

14 thoughts on “The Magic of Touch in Chiang Mai Bus Station”

  1. Hi Shama,
    First another message regarding “massage for lovers/friends” My daughter who is pregnant has aggrevated an old neck injury from a car accident, asked for the neck and shoulder massage from the aforementioned massage. 15 minutes later her neck and shoulders were completely painless. Now to comment on bus station kindness 🙂 If that was the same situation here in England the recipient would probably have called the police and said they had just been assaulted!! That is the difference between the cultures, over here because of the repercussions you would be left to suffer!!

    Regards
    Terry

    • About your daughter’s neck improvement: Wow, that’s great, I am so happy to hear that!

      Regarding the ‘assault in England’, this is sad but true. England has a reputation for being a no-touch culture, as have many northern European countries.

  2. hi Shama few things came into my mind – real healing and caring others must be done spontaneously like you experienced without thinking like in western people use to do – strangers – not my responsibility – everyone is human being and simple small friendly action as you said can be remembered rest of people’s life and also one important thing- this is done without asking something as return …. that is something which comes from your heart and by doing not just by saying – nice words are great but finally actions makes this better world for everyone – best regards – mikko

    • Agreed Mikko, my little story is a perfect example of a totally selfless kind act with no motive for getting anything in return. Imagine if we would all treat each other in such ways, what a world it would be – like heaven on earth.

    • And this unknown woman will never know that her act of kindness would be read by thousands of people on a popular website.

  3. I have to say that even here in Thailand, this is neither a typical nor a common event. That’s why for me it felt like a massage angel appeared out of nowhere and disappeared again.

  4. Shama,

    i was touched by this act of kindness! Here in Chicago, well I would be surprised to see such thing too. After all we are all people in need and kindness is a wonderful touch!

    • I am sure there can be acts of kindness in Chicago as well, but they would likely take another form than a foot massage in a bus station:)

  5. Hello Shama,

    Another nice story! And a beautiful demonstration of Metta in action. I think of Compassion (Karuna) as something we FEEL, and Metta (Loving-kindness) as something we DO. And yes, there are always risks that your act of love can be misconstrued and cause problems, but whether in Chicago, Chiang Mai, London or Johannesburg, acts of Loving-kindness often take real courage to perform… So good for you for show-casing such a good example. And may we always endeavor to rise above the constraints of cultural formality, personal shyness, fear of legal liability, etc. and keep on giving the love wherever it may be needed.
    Much Love to You and Be Well,
    Deon.

    • I was fortunate to come across some such situations, and I hope I will come across more of them. They all are wonderful memories and great stories to share with others.
      Thanks for your thoughtful input, much love and best wishes to you as well.
      Shama

Leave a Comment