It was our second to last night together in Laos. After grabbing a quick bite at the night market, Loren and I pondered what to do this evening. After little debate we decided we would get traditional Lao massages. We heard a lot of positive feedback from tourists about these massages (and how relaxing they are!!!!) and felt it would be a nice way to start off our evening (even though the night life in Laos is super lame). We walked around the area surrounding our guesthouse looking for a suitable, professional place to get our massages. We were not two tourists looking for happy endings massages or massages from super skimpy dressed Lao women, we wanted the real deal, professional, relaxing massage, although we did joke about what we would do if such a circumstance arose.
We eventually settled upon the Hoxieng Lao Traditional Massage and Spa, which looked like the most serious/professional joint in our area. We walked inside and were greeted at the desk by an older Lao woman. She handed us “menus” with the different types of massages we could go with. These ranged from traditional Lao body massages (much like Thai massages from my understanding – a lot of deep pressure and limb stretching) to Lao massages with herbs or oils, to aromatherapy and foot reflexology massages. We decided to each get the 1-hour Lao massage with herbs (not really knowing what that meant) for about 14 dollars US.
At the point at which we ordered, there was only one visible female masseuse, and we were unsure if she was the only one on duty and we’d have to share a masseuse (which we did not want). She motioned us to come back into the massage area and we followed her. She led us to a small foot bathing area where she asked us to take off our shoes. We eagerly took off our shoes and socks and put our feet in the warm tub of water. I was ready for this cute little Lao women to wash my feet when from behind the curtain to the massage area came a tiny, skinny, and very smiley Lao man! He was wearing the same outfit as the other woman and I started to question if someone was going to be getting a massage from a dude. Let me say this now, there’s nothing wrong with getting a massage from a guy, but when I imagined this experience in my head, I certainly did not picture a guy was going to be giving me my massage so I was a little concerned that my fantasy was not going to match the reality of this situation. Before I could think otherwise, the male masseuse hopped down on one knee and began to wash my feet. This was one of the stranger experiences I’ve had on my trip. I was not expecting a man was going to be part of this experience so the whole thing kind of started on the wrong foot (no pun intended J). I had my feet washed before during my Thai foot massages, but having a man wash my feet was super uncomfortable. I tried my best not to laugh at the whole situation, but combined with my nervousness about this little man scrubbing my feet, I was as giggly as a schoolgirl and could not stop laughing throughout his foot wash.
Loren, who clearly is more mature than me, was able to get his feet washed with little problem. We were then directed to the individual massage areas that featured long, soft mats, towels on the mats, and even a massage outfit that we were told to put on. Yet again we were shocked to find that they had set up Loren and my massage mats next to each other. Again, contradictory to our expectation, I think we both had hoped we would be in separate areas or rooms for each of our massages. I don’t think we imagined we would be side by side for this experience. It was also become clearer that one of us was going to be getting massaged by a man. Something I don’t think either us expected or desired.
After we changed into our massage gear, we sat on our mats and had a quick laugh about what was going on. We briefly discussed what we would do if one of our masseuses were indeed the little man. I told Loren I would ask for someone else, but in my mind I knew it would be hard to do so and not offended this happy little massager. Luckily as our masseuses entered the massage area, the woman came and sat down by my mat; Loren, however, did not receive such good fate, as the little Lao man trotted in an sat down next to Loren’s mat. Again, I could not hold back the laughs as he told Loren to turn over onto his back. My mind was completely in the gutter at this point, and I was certainly not helping the calm or relaxation of this experience as I literally giggled every couple minutes at what was going on.
Loren was a true sport about this whole thing. He showed no problem with the situation, which I’m sure the masseuse appreciated. However, a couple things kept me in a very silly state. One, the massage was kind of ticklish. My masseuse was pushing on my hamstrings in a way that made me laugh out loud. Then every couple of minutes I would hear Loren moan from whatever his masseuse was doing to him and I could not hold back the laughs. Finally, I was trying to keep my eyes closed, but every so often I would look over and see this little Lao man pounding away at Loren’s body and I would crack up. It reminded me of one of those scenes in a movie where two guys go to get massages and one guy get a super hot woman (not to say my masseuse was super attractive), and the other guy gets a super strong ugly women or some muscular man (even though this guy looked anything but strong). I could not help but laugh, or giggle rather as a result of these thoughts. You know that time when you were in grade school and you couldn’t stop laughing about some stupid inside joke you had with your friend in class and the teacher made you leave the room? It was like that for me, except I’m 24 years old…slightly embarrassing. I can’t image what the masseuses were thinking either; either they thought we were laughing at them (which I did feel bad about) or maybe the situation, I don’t know, but it was a little awkward at some points, however, I was ultimately able to settle myself down and actually enjoy the massage. That being said, I did have one more laugh thinking about how the scene would play out if Loren’s masseuse asked him if he wanted a happy ending.
After about 10-15 minutes of stupid laughs and mild awkwardness I calmed down and really got into the massage. Some of the moves this woman was doing really felt great. She used her entire body to stretch my arm and legs in positions that really loosened me up. The part I enjoyed the most was lying on my stomach while she chopped away at my back and put pressure on different areas of my back. The herbs were a nice touch too. After each section of massage we received, our masseuses would get a bag (for lack of a better word) of herbs that had been sitting in boiling water. They would then press the bags onto the areas of our body they had just massaged. If the physical massage had loosened these areas up, the herb treatment then melted any remaining tension away. I almost fell asleep at some point I was so relaxed. Towards the end we were prompted to sit up and we were treated to an awesome head, neck, and back massage (I really enjoyed the hair pulling part…weird?). To top it all off, the male masseuse switched with my female masseuse at the very end (which I was completely comfortable with at this point) and gave me the best back crack of my life!!!!
We were served hot tea and bananas to end our massages (which was a nice finishing touch). In the end the massage felt great and were incredibly relaxing regardless of the comedic circumstances. That being said, we vowed that if we ever went back we would stagger our arrivals at least 10 minutes apart to avoid another side by side massage.