Two Americans on Two Crisp White Mats.

This morning John and I woke up feeling kinda sore and achy, so we decided to try out another cheap Khmer massage. It seemed like a grand idea, since we had walked two hundred miles the day before, to see the sunset over this certain temple…turns out it was a hill of stones with a lot of tourists! Small story in itself. So by the end of the day, we had spent $40 USD, endured a bumpy-ass tuk-tuk ride, and all we had gained was a handful of mediocre pictures and some jacked-up bodies to show for it!

Maybe it was our previous hardships or the culture deprivation we were experiencing. Or maybe it was just simply the illusion of relaxation in some cool, exotic-colored massage parlor that compelled us to revisit this one-of-a-kind, delicate torture. I don’t know, but somehow we managed to find ourselves side-by-side on two crisp white mat in a bright, heavily-incensed room…


My masseuse (if I can call her that) spoke hardly any English and seemed more enthralled with my white skin and the fact that I was American than the fact that I was in need of her “professional services.” Nevertheless, I attempted to relax as she began her unexpected magic. She wasted no time, swiping over my feet, kneading and pulling my tired legs, and popping my toes. Not-so-pleasantly surprising but I was still intent on having a blissful experience, so I closed my eyes and mustered up visions of relaxation.

That ended as soon as she pushed her small cold feet against my thighs and then coaxed my legs into a super-human formation while pulling my arms in opposite directions. Meanwhile, I glanced over to see John doing the “downward facing dog” while his masseuse thumped on his knees. I chuckled to myself while the two women kept chattering on, with little regard for our groans or winces, stopping only to say “you hurt?” in their sweet little voices, before continuing on with the abuse. I don’t know what John wanted to say, but I know what I wanted to scream…”Nooo, don’t worry about it little darling, you’ve already killed me!” But all I could utter was an urgent “YES!”

By now I had put so much energy into staying composed that even the most remote thoughts of tranquility had essentially escaped my being. Despite our apparent urgency, it seemed that nothing would deter them from our stiff, non-flexible American bodies. They were determined to put us in a permanent yoga position. Each time we moaned, they would respond with a smile and more pinching, stretching, slapping, thumping…and everything but, massaging???

This went on for what was quite possibly the longest hour of our lives.

Finally it was over and we breathed a sigh of relief as we drug our half-dead selves back to the hotel and vowed we would never submit ourselves to this kind of cruelty again. All the while knowing that, if history repeats itself, when the time calls and we find our achy bodies in some strange foreign land craving a little rest and TLC we will most likely end up on two crisp white mats again.

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