About that time in Vietnam when we went for massages…

I am sick. The kind of sick where all your bones in your face, back and neck ache and the snot just won’t stop. As I lay here convincing myself how bad antibiotics is, I am contemplating a trip to the massage parlour for a little self-help. And then, I am reminded of that time Leanne and I went to a massage parlour in Bato. Now I rolleth over with snot and laughter as I recall the nights events, as it was nothing I have ever experienced in my life.

To save myself from thinking too hard and exhausting the very little energy I do have, here is Leanne’s copy + paste version of that night’s event. Enjoy!

“After a beer or 2, I suggested to Natalie that we go and get our hair washed in Bato- the local little town. Bato is a very Vietnamese town- that does not cater to Westerners in any way. You can buy a cell phone, motorbike, clothes, fruit, meat off the streets but no cheese or fresh milk. So off we went on the 10 minute bike ride. This involves going through 1 small patch of horrific smells. I like to slow down here so Natalie can get a good wiff!

We get to Bato and I chose a hair salon but Natalie thinks that one is a bit manky (most of them are). So we look around a bit more and turn back to one we saw at the beginning. I think it is just as manky but we give it a go. There are clothes all over the beds, which the ladies quickly grab. There is also a young boy playing on a computer. We negotiate- with absolutely no common language, that a head massage will cost 30 000VND (about R20) but they can only do 1 at a time so one of us will have to have a massage for 120 000- about R80 (see price list below). Natalie is looking at the bed with the towel that looks like it has not been changed in days. I know what she is thinking- this is a person that washes new clothes before wearing them, and changes her boy’s clothes the minute they get a smudge on them. I suggest we can shower after-and I will start on the bed and she can have a hair wash. I have to strip and jump on the bed. This is all in front of the 8-9 year old boy on the computer, and anyone driving past on the road- as the curtains don’t really meet and since it is now dark outside and we are brightly lit- I am quite sure we were visible.

The massage starts with the masseur climbing on top of me and massaging with her knees. This is very weird and I am a bit worried- Natalie however is having her hair washed and massaged and is really not interested in the rough treatment I am receiving on the bed. My massage was at times gentle, then rough, then involved bending me in directions I don’t think I am supposed to bend, and sometimes even a beating. Natalie finished her hair massage, albeit with a bit of cold water in her nose and was put on the bed next to me with a hot pillow- which was hot enough for her to squirm. My turn not to care as I had had a hot stone massage and was feeling quite relaxed. I also had a hot pillow under my head and was lying on my back. Since the ladies could not understand any English and I had been moaning and we had been laughing- they must have been wondering about us. Then, I was telling Natalie a very funny story that had the both of us in hysterics-never mind that I was still being bent at all angles and pounded, even having my feet pushed to my ears while the top of my bum was spanked. This just encouraged the laughter which was obviously contagious as our two ladies were now joining in in the laughter.

My massage finished and I am not sure if I felt relief or sadness- as it was a good massage- most of the time. I moved to the hair washing and Natalie got to lie on the bed with one more person’s oils on the towel. I really feel the masseur was not as rough on her- and she got into the swing of things, despite her nose running (and no tissue anywhere in site- and since the Vietnamese don’t blow their nose and if they do it is not onto a tissue so we did not know how to ask) she had snot dripping onto the floor! Since the floor was dirty anyway I did not think it would matter much. I had to keep my bare feet slightly elevated when she was drying my hair as there were ants all over the floor. Natalie was now fully exposed with the boy wandering around and the curtains blowing in the wind. The hair massage was rougher than I had experienced, but still good. A bit freaky as they take calls in your ear!

When I was finished I decided to step into Natalie’s area and get dressed as she was now on her back. I tried to get dressed quickly as possible but every time I tried to get my bra clasped, it would fly out of my hands. This is not what I wanted as I was feeling very exposed. After the third time I said to Natalie- I can’t get my bra on, she looked up and said “that’s my bra”- well that was the end of us, we collapsed into fits of giggles, with the  ladies understanding exactly what we were laughing at- so they joined in. Natalie is an AA cup whereas I am a D cup!

We dressed and paid for our massage and headed home. We were in such a silly mood- having had 3 hrs of fun, pampering and pain. We headed off on the bike in the dark and it is quite spooky especially as there was a very eerie light in the night sky. I also was looking to see if there was anyone following us- which there wasn’t but Natalie now got all freaked out with the light and if she saw a light behind us urged me to speed up but since it was quite dark and there are lots of domestic animals on the road 40-50 km per hour was my max. I felt a toad jump in my foot- bit freaky. However we got home safely after a fantastic night. ”

Drop your spa standards in remote areas in Asia people!

Thank you Leanne for this memory and for all those that we have made and will make in the future. You are my go to person. My fun person. My logical person. My longest long distance friendship. Love you and your family hugely.



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