I love the ways experiences unfold together, happening in a great and beautiful sequence. As I look back upon my past few weeks I can’t help but be struck with the sense that everything is occurring perfectly and just as it should. That every single event leads inexorably into the next and the following after that. Simple. Beautiful.
At present I’m sitting at a street corner getting a Thai foot massage.
The massage itself is both painful and pleasant. Targeted pressure applied to specific pressure points interspersed with moments of giggling due to the tickling effect. I can feel my body starting to sweat; this is reflexology and it’s said to release toxins, hence the heat and subsequent sweating.
My masseuse is a beautiful woman with broad shoulders and observant eyes. I wonder how long she’s been practicing this form of income generation, how many feet does she work on on an average night, how did she learn the skill and what does she think about what she does? Watching her work I’m struck that yes, this is a physically demanding task for her. Now she’s hitting my legs and feet with closed fists. I can feel it reverberate throughout my system and into my trunk. Ouch! And oh, how nice!
One of the coolest parts of the massage is the people watching. There are about 100 chairs with foot rests set along the edges of an open street corner amidst the night market. Most chairs are occupied with a mix of westerners, local Thai and Asian tourists all in a state of tolerating pain, observation or eyes closed in resignation and relaxation. It’s like Country Fair booths meet urban Thailand. The night market stretches across the old city on broad streets and into temple grounds. Endless stalls of food, curios and kitsch. Endless bodies after body, many many westerners but also Asians and Thai, a melange of languages. This place is a mecca for travelers and endlessly entertaining.
I could sit here all night taking in the scene and allowing the kinks to be worked out of my body–so after she finishes with my feet I pay her an extra 60 baht to work on my shoulders, neck and arms for another 30 minutes.
Pop, crink, aaah; she goes to town on my raw shoulders and spine. This is less painful but no less intense.
Just before the massage is over, the masseuse takes both my elbows and pulls them up above shoulder level, she then grabs my hands and interlaces my fingers behind my head, supporting my neck. Then she does an unexpected thing and pulls back and down on my elbows while pushing her knee and shin upwards into my lower back. This raises me up and stretches out my whole body. I laugh and laugh and laugh as I take off into a backwards flight. She giggles once then she too gives over to laughing and we both lose ourselves in a fit of laughter with bellies shaking and very very full smiles.
For as long as I’m in Chiang Mai I’ll be coming to the night market, oogling all the fascinating Homo sapiens and taking flight.