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Here on Koh Phangan it’s easy to assume there is only partying and beaches, but there are many other activities you can find yourself doing if you look slightly below the surface.
Massage parlors are the perfect place to let loose for a second, perhaps have someone rub out the kinks leftover from a night of dancing.
They also provide the perfect opportunity to bring a valuable skill home. Thailand is arguably the only place you should look to be trained in giving a Thai massage - what better way to learn than from the people who invented it - and the skill is quite valuable overseas. The art of Thai massage is not well known elsewhere, but it should be, their pressure point and blood flow-focused style can bring many relief they would not otherwise find in an oil or swedish massage.
Walk into a massage parlor and ask if they’ll teach you Thai massage - only a few places will have the time. The women will welcome you into their business and teach you some skills (at a cost of course). If you put in the work and practice on your own - shouldn’t be too hard to find someone, this is a free massage we’re talking about - by the end of three short days you will be able to complete an entire hour long massage.
The best way to learn Thai massage is to learn by doing and by receiving. They will likely lay you on the table and give you the massage so that you can feel the positioning and purpose of each step. Not only is this a great way to learn - it’s a great way to get a massage, too!
That being said, it isn’t all fun and games - learning to give a Thai massage is incredibly confusing. They have mastered the art of moving, bending, and turning the clients’ and their bodies seamlessly. After having tried, it turns out those positions take a lot of work to get into, and even more work to make it seem like you’re hardly moving the client. Nevertheless, after some training and learning (by doing), the task becomes easier.
There will most likely be a language barrier, which can lead to a bonding through action rather than verbal communication. The ladies will laugh with you as you try and fail to use the right amount of pressure and push in the wrong places - namely, missing the muscle you’re meant to stretch. They will also get excited with you when you start to understand and begin to flow with the ‘client'.
The time spent learning how to give a Thai massage, and looking ridiculous in doing so, gives perspective, fun, and an opportunity to do something less conventional or expected on the island.
Give it a go - and tell your Mom you did something other than drink while on Koh Phangan!