Monday, June 20, 2016

That Time We Got Vietnamese Massages




I don't know why Vietnamese massages are the thing to do while you're there. Maybe it's an ancient healing technique, or because the American dollar is so strong that you can get dope 90 minute massage for $15. Or maybe... JUST maybe it’s because there are so many legit articles on where to go in Vietnam to get a happy ending. Who knows, really?

The two weeks we were in Vietnam, we got 3 massages (zero happy endings). One was great, one was okay and one was straight up bizarre.

The first one was in Ho Chi Minh City. We found it highly rated on Google and now looking it up, it’s one of the highest rated in Saigon.

We arrive and were immediately greeted, given menus and treated to delicious iced jasmine tea.

Dan and I each decided on the 90 minute traditional Vietnamese massage. We paid the whopping extra two dollars to have it a couple’s massage- which meant we were just in the same room.

I’ve gotten massages before. They’re nice. The idea of them is nicer. I just can never completely relax when I get a massage. It’s not that it doesn’t feel good, it’s just that it’s… a stranger, and I can never will my body to relax enough for it to be super enjoyable. These are trained masseuses, but sometimes Dan’s half-ass, wine in one hand shoulder rubs are my fave.

Dan, on the other hand, had never gotten a massage.

We all point to the desired menu choice and then led Dan and I into a dimly lit room. That makes it sound creepy, but it was very nice. The lighting was perfect, the two massage beds were clean, and the atmosphere was tranquil and smelled of sweet oils and fresh cucumber.

The language barrier was a bit of an issue between the two of us and the two masseuses, but nothing some aggressive hand gestures couldn’t solve.

Basically we were told to undress and change into these oversized long linen shorts. While they stood there and watched. Ok.

Now that I’m recounting this memory, it’s occurring to me that that was the first time that I had been naked in front of Dan and another person at the same time, a whole group of people in this case.

Anyway, we put these shorts on and lie on our backs for the first 45 minutes. Which is great. There’s a cucumber face mask and lots of great, perfectly pressurized massaging. I’m doing pretty a good job of telling myself to effing relax.

Then, the midpoint comes and I’m told to turn over on my stomach, as is Dan.

This is where things get interesting, or rather, traditional?

This Vietnamese woman, however tiny, began WALKING up my back. There’s no bar on the ceiling for her to hold on to alleviating any sort of pressure. It’s just all 110 pounds of her using my spine as a catwalk.

Alright, I think. This is probably normal.

After that, she straddles my waist, sitting on the back of my thighs and just uses her forearms as shovels into my back. Maybe she thought there was some gold hiding in there, I have no idea.

This went on for about 10 minutes. The weirdest part was looking over at Dan, having this same sort of thing happening to him. It was the feeling of watching something I shouldn’t- my boyfriend fiancé being straddled and rubbed down.

I turned my head the other way and the pleasurable form of torture continued. After she was done digging her arms into me, she thought my head no longer wanted to be attached to my body, so she started stretching with all her might my neck the opposite direction of my right shoulder. It didn’t pop off, so she went around and tried pulling it away from my left shoulder.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, I could’ve asked at any point to ease up on the pressure. But I wanted the traditional Vietnamese massage experience, and this.was.it.

After having no luck popping my head off my body, she moved to my lower back and buttocks, which I think she may have spent a little too much time on, but no one was complaining.

Next, she moved to my legs, where she just proceeded to beat the shit out of them. I’m not exaggerating, literally putting her hand into a fish and punching the fleshy parts of my leg.

This went on for a while until the massage was starting to wrap up. I knew this because Dan was all finished and his masseuse had left and he began dressing again. So, he was a prime witness for my massage finale.

She had me sit up, in 90 degree angle, with my legs in front of me. She then, again with her entire body, laid on my back, forcing the top half of my (bare chested) body to become parallel with my legs. She wiggled around on there for a while, until hoping off and laying my back down on the table again.

Again, completely exposed with Dan watching, she took my right leg, pulled it across the left side of my body, and then laid on the tangled mess of limbs- which actually was successful in making lots of cracking sounds in my body, which I suppose was the point. She of course needed to even me up and did the same for my left leg across the right side of my body.

After all the cracking concluded, she hopped up, bowed her head slightly and left the room.

I sat up and looked at a fully clothed Dan and wondered aloud what the fuck just happened.

He said he loved his, especially the booty part. I agreed that it was good, but that I was sure to be bruised in the morning. I made this sound like the.worst experience ever, but it was actually very cool, and different, and interesting and maybe a learning experience that if I feel a tiny Asian woman is abusing me, it’s ok to tell her to ease up. Then again, it was a 90 minute massage for $20.

*****

The next massage was a few days later before we left Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang to meet up with the rest of the group.

Ho Chi Minh was hot and we were walking in our flops everywhere, so we decided to get a 30-minute, $5 foot massage. It was pretty anti-climactic besides feeling really awesome and them removing every callous that ever existed so that my feet felt like a babies bottom.


*****

The third and final massage we got was in Hanoi the day before we left to come back to the States. Dan and I just wanted a foot massage. As did our friend Jes, while Tommy wanted a full body massage.

We all went to a spa recommended by our hotel and they had a similar vibe to My Spa in Saigon- very clean and professional. Unfortunately they were full and could not accommodate all four of us.

Spas in Vietnam are like Starbucks- they’re on every corner. However, there are no brand standards, so each one is very very different quality wise- like snowflakes. Ok, that’s enough with the similes.

So we walked down the block and found another spa, walked in and requested 3 foot massages and 1 full body massage.

This place wasn’t AS nice as the others but it would do.

The foot massage Dan and I had received earlier in the trip was preformed while we were sitting in chairs, with the masseuse sitting on a smaller, lower to the ground chair- much like in the states where you to get a pedicure… just keep that in mind for the next part of this story.

So we point on the menu to what we want and, they say ok, come this way. They point to room behind a sliding glass door right behind the receptionist.

I’m slightly confused and try to clarify, do you want all of us back there, remember how a few of us are getting foot massages. It didn’t work and we’re all placed in this room. It’s was about 200 square feet with 4 massage tables in it. One massage table is surrounded by a sheer white curtain.

Tommy is told to go behind the curtain and change into a pair of leopard print boxer shorts they provided him. So while he’s doing that- in very clear view of everyone in the room, Dan, Jes and I lie down on the remaining 3 tables for our foot massage.

It’s just the four of us in the hot room and I’m very confused but just going with it. It’s stuffy, so we blast the AC. When the masseuse comes in later, she’s shocked at how cold we set it, and I think is convinced that I may catch a cold, so proceeds to stack no less than 4 bath towels on top of me.

Ok?

Ok, now all four of us are lying down and were ready for these massages. There’s a tiny man that begins mine and a woman that begins Jes’. They tell Dan his masseuse will be there soon. She ends up showing up 20 minutes later, and appears to be someone’s grandmother.

Tommy is lying down with minimal clothing on his table, where the masseuse has pushed back the useless curtain and begins massaging him with A LOT of oil. It’s potent.

So, here we are. Four friends, 1 room, all getting massaged by strangers.

The next hour goes by and it’s just a combination of Tommy’s masseuse chatting on a cell phone, therefore only using on hand, all 4 of the masseuses/grandmas talking in Vietnamese, a baby crying right outside of the room, trying to get unburied from the pile of towels I’m under, and squirming around as the guy massages my kneecap (?) of which I’m extremely ticklish. (Dude, skip this kneecap, this is a freakin foot massage).

Overall, it was a hilarious situation because well, did you read the above. But the massage focused far too much on our kneecaps and shins rather than the feet.


And Tommy got an over oiled one handed massage in leopard print underwear. So there’s that. 

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