Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Report 6: Mercati's Thai Massage Manual

Before my first visit to the Land of Smiles I had been emailing and chatting with a few friends I'd made as pen pals, three of whom were anxiously awaiting my first trip to meet them.  One of them lived a fairly frugal lifestyle, watched every baht and was somewhat surprised to hear me say I was looking forward to the massages I'd read about there.

"Oh, so expensive," he wrote "I'll do Thai massage for you!" "Do you know how to do a Thai massage?" I'd asked, and when he replied "No, but I'll learn. You don't need to spend so much money here!"  I figured I could either have lucked out or I may come back home in traction of some sort.

Nevertheless, I thanked him for his kind offer and thought that maybe - just maybe - he'd actually take some classes in the five months before I was scheduled to arrive. "Stranger things have happened," I said to myself, but knowing he worked six days a week at an office job I wasn't getting my hopes up.

When we met we went out to dinner and he mentioned in passing that he'd learned "some" technique and was planning to show me what he'd learned when he dropped me back at my hotel later that evening.  I was apprehensive, but figured "oh, what the hell... why not?"

Back at my room I asked him where he'd taken his training, and he said "oh, no time for training... I read a book!"  "A book?" I asked, now more than merely apprehensive. "Yes, I bought a book, and I read it every day on my lunch hour. Every night when I'd get home I'd practice on my father". "Is your father all right?" I inquired, trying to be as delicate as possible in my questioning. "Yes, he said I'm learning fast!"  He seemed so pleased to be able to do this favor for me that I let down my guard and had my first Thai massage.

Lo and behold - in this "newbie's" opinion - he did a decent job at it. Having had countless others of varying quality since then he did just fine, thinking back.

There were a few times when I had to say "easy with me, I'm not used to this" and he'd lessen the pressure he was using, but it really was relaxing, and when he was through I got up and moved around the room, noting my increased range of joint motion and stretched muscles.  As I was complimenting him on his new skills he pulled a used copy of today's book out of his backpack that he'd found in some book shop.

Both images today are from Thai Massage Manual by Maria Mercati, copyright 1998

Thai Massage Manual is all in English, published by Asia Books, but is so well illustrated with step-by-step images and instructions that even with his limited English he was able to duplicate the moves fairly well.  I went out and bought a copy the next day.  Anyone can learn this. Anyone. I practiced it myself at home and returned on my second visit with enough at hand to give him an approximation of what he'd done with me.

New, the book cost me 595Bt (about $20USD). I hope at his pay rate he got a much cheaper version someplace used, but I didn't want to be rude and ask, so I didn't. It's a full-size (8.5" x 11"), full color paperback, 144 pages, and covers technique, different stretches and pressures, and how to work on different parts of the body.

Doing a quick check on Amazon I found copies between $3USD and $15USD. Well worth the investment if you care to learn some about this wonderful and healthy practice.

[As a side note/reminder, there's a link to a very good currency converter right here on the blog in the right hand column.]


Anonymous said...

You're amusing there...


khunbaobao said...

It was a good example of the generosity of the Thai, I thought, but I was amused he'd put in that sort of time and effort, too!