We went to one of those small shops near our hotel. I forgot the name of the shop. I don't even remember the name of our hotel now or the street we were in.
The woman who came to our room was small, probably 40 kilos or so and around 4’10 in height. She seemed to be in her 50s. She didn't speak English. But she smiled a lot so that more or less made up for everything.
As she walked in, I stared at her gentle, wrinkled face. She reminded me of my Lola who passed away when I was younger. Her presence, like that of my Lola's, was the kind you’d look for when you’re sick or need attention.
As she approached my bed, I said “Hello”. She smiled and quietly signalled me to take my clothes off. She gave me only a piece of loose shorts and nothing for the top except a white towel. I was embarrassed at first, but I told myself it was nothing irregular. Massage parlors do this kind of thing all the time.
Before she began, I told her I was not used to hard massage and that she should be careful. She said Ok.
At first it was pleasurable and relaxing. She poured menthol oil into my back and kneaded me gently. The smell of menthol while being massaged and the soft music in the background were enough to send me to outer space.
But, after a while, I noticed her pushing harder and harder. Suddenly, she sat on top of my legs and started pulling my arm towards her, my back facing her back. I heard some heavy cracking. I wondered what that was…my bones? my muscles? my liver? I was alarmed.
Fifteen minutes into the routine, I was beginning to think this auntie may be an MMA fighter. She kept pulling me into all sorts of directions left to right, contorting me into positions I wouldn’t imagine anyone ever doing to me in my entire life. When I’d tell her to go soft, she’d just smile, tap my butt, and then keep on with what she was doing.
The torture and manhandling went on for two hours. All this while I was wearing only a towel. When she was done, I reached out to my wallet painfully and then gave her money. Afterwards, I returned to my bed sore and soft as dough. I thought all my bones melted. I couldn’t get up anymore. I felt sick all over.
The next day, I got fever as expected. Meanwhile, Ava was on the bed beside mine, cheerful as ever. She actually didn’t do the massage and opted for a scrub instead. So she was healthy and had all the energy to tease me about the ordeal. “Da, sige pa. Ngano ni enter?” she’d say to me over and over again while laughing.
Well, she suffered with me too. We had to cancel our scheduled trip to Cambodia. We spent the rest of the day holed up in our hotel.
As for Thai massage, that was voluntary torture. I paid high for that horrible experience. I'll never very gonna do it again ever.