Archive for the ‘I Once…’ Category

I once … got massaged in a Thai prison.

Crumbs, there are so many ways this story could go, but thankfully mine doesn’t involve a Thai massage ‘happy ending’.

It was June of this year, I was in Thailand with Sarah to celebrate her birthday (note that I left out which birthday, considerate boyfriend that I am). We had spent two days in a hot, humid and over crowded Bangkok. This was followed by a 14 hour overnight train journey. So by the time we reached Chiang Mai in the North of the country, we were more than ready to be pushed, pulled and stretched any which way we could.

The back story

Let’s make one thing clear, I wasn’t arrested. Our massages took place at the Thai Women’s Prison and I consented to such shenanigans. Heck, I even paid for it!

Basically, the majority of women prisoners were serving time for drug related crimes. The Thai Government came to the conclusion that they were dealing in drugs because they hadn’t any other skills to put to good use to get an income. Therefore, whilst in prison, the women learnt skills that would allow them to get paid work upon release. Some of the skills included making handicrafts and one of them was, you guessed it, training to be a masseuse.

The chosen one

All the prisoners who gave the massages were due to be released within 6 months and the massages here cost less than half the price of anywhere else we found in Chiang Mai, plus they were conducted in a building opposite the main prison so there was no cuffing or cells involved, although it was still an offiical prison building with wardens and inmates.

I walked into the room and several travellers were in various stages of their massages. Some were leaving and looked smug as if to say, you haven’t a clue what you have let yourself in for, others were deep in conversation with their masseuse.

I changed into my robe as instructed and awaited my lady. There were 5 in the room, all very pretty and chatty. Mine entered and I’m not exaggerating, she looked liked Mrs Trunchbull from the book Matilda. She was by all accounts, a stereotypical prisoner! You wouldn’t mess with her.

Language barriers

She also spoke no English. I spoke no Thai. We communicated solely through hand gestures and facial expressions and when I didn’t understand how she wanted me to position myself she simply moved me herself.

The massage was incredible. At one point she was swinging me from side to side and my back was clicking and crunching. She also sat behind me and then somehow pulled me into the air on top of her. It was like something from an amateur wrestling show, minus the lycra.

The end

After an hour it was over. I sort of felt relaxed and exhausted all at the same time. It was exhilarating and terrifying. When she had finished, she just put her hands together, bowed to me and vanished. I felt used!

It was then that I became the smug one whilst the new arrivals entered the room probably thinking the same as I was when I entered: I’m going into a prison for a massage in a foreign country, good job I didn’t tell mum beforehand.

That was 5 months ago so the lady who massaged me will definitely be free by now. I feel happy knowing that I helped her practice a skill for her new life on the outside but if I ever go back to Thailand and spot her, I’ll cross to the other side of the road.

Next time: I once … met James Bond in a hotel

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Introducing – I Once …

Long before I started writing about communication and web type things, I wrote articles about my travels, and I could be as descriptive and creative as I wished. This is something I have neglected of late so I am introducing a new series of blog posts called: ‘I Once …’

As human beings, stories are integral to our lives, we hear them from birth and tell our own until death. So as narrator of my own life, the ‘I Once …’ articles will allow me to share some of my stories with you, adding a more personal dimension to this blog which is my own storytelling platform.

I hope you enjoy them!

COMING SOON: I Once … got massaged by a female convict in a Thai prison.