Friday, 29 January 2010

Thai massage: Rose Garden Riverside -- RUBBING SHOULDERS

So there we were having a wander around the Thai village at Rose Garden, when Khun O introduces me to his two resident herbal medicine experts, Khun Panya and Khun Peera. Both specialise in herbal medicine, but Panya is also qualified in Thai massage (and musician in the village show each afternoon) and Peera is a certified yoga teacher.

O is extolling the virtues of Panya's massage skills: 'In fact we just had a guy in here the other week who's had shoulder problems for years, and Panya managed to fix it.' My eyes lit up ... I've been carrying an excrutiating shoulder injury for the past few weeks and nothing, nothing, seems to be able to shake it. I've tried massages at Wat Po and, er, many more dodgy places besides.

Panya nodded his head; asked me to open my shirt. He fixed me with his one good eye (the other one seemed to be drooping like an unwatered sunflower). He got me to do a series of movements with my arm. Ouch! He nodded his head sagely, and looked at Peera. He nodded his head. To the layman it seemed that they were saying: 'This guy's got a sore shoulder.'

Peera massaged the back of my shoulder blades. Panya then started probing away at my upper right arm. Ouch!

'Sen thinni,' he said in his quiet, soothing voice. This line. Sens are the energy lines of the body, according to the ancient practice of Thai massage. There are something like 72 of these coursing through our bodies. Whilst the pain seemed to be at the very apex of my shoulder, the sen line he worked back and forward was lower, near the inside top of my bicep. It seemed to be knotted and angry, certainly painful to the touch as though swollen.

Back and forth, back and forth up the limb he worked. One of those pleasurable/ painful sensations made famous by the Divinyls song 'It's a fine line between pleasure and pain ...'. I groaned and winced and ooh-ed and aah-ed.

Panya's gnarly hands built up the intensity. Stronger, deeper. Poking, probing. As if he was playing my artery like a guitar string. Even harder now. Aaaargh! Then SNAP!!! @#%$&#!!! He finished with a vigorous flourish that made me scream an expletive at unacceptably loud levels.

He stepped back with a smug grin. 'How is it?' Khun O asked.
'Don't know, I can't feel anything for the pain.'

Panya got me to try and roll my arm over. It felt looser, less traumatic than it was before.
'Come back and see him again tomorrow.'

That afternoon, my shoulder went into violent voluntary spasm, as though there were an entrapped alien trying to dig its way out of it. I didn't sleep very well on account of the pain. I looked in the mirror and it seemed bruised from where he'd poked and prodded and pushed.

I returned the next day for the next session. This time it was only Panya. He gave me a lighter and shorter version of what he'd done yesterday, then stepped back with that self-satisfied smile again.

'He says it should be OK now. Do nothing for one week, it should be better.'

Well, I've been on anti-inflammatories and headache tablets for much of this week (as you could probably tell by the fevered writing!). But last night I skipped them and the shoulder feels about 95% fine today. I mean I can even lift my coffee mug with my right arm now.

Funnily enough I was having dinner with a friend in Bangkok recently and he said his friend had a really bad shoulder and this bloke fixed it right up. 'At the Rose Garden,' he told me. Small world, eh?

Tomorrow it will be one week exactly. So I reckon Panya's done it again ...

PS: By the way, the Rose Garden does have its own Arusaya Thai Wellness Spa where Panya and Peera's herbal compresses are used, among other treatments.

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