It’s not until Hue in Vietnam that I feel I’ve truly earned a massage.
I’ve just spent my birthday on an overnight train where I slept (and I know I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating) on a bed which bore some previous traveller’s pubic hair.
To make it worse the morning after we’re forced to traipse around yet another temple, in the rain, by an incredibly arrogant local guide with a severe case of little man syndrome.
I swear in the next two days all I do is try and keep my pack dry and all I get is incredibly wet.
And, to top it off all I learn is that monks eat tofu because the oestrogen in it suppresses their sexual urges.
Yes, I’ve truly earned this traditional Vietnamese massage.
I excitedly strip off and lie on the table. The masseuse starts. I’m in my happy place.
But then I hear another woman entering the room and they start giggling hysterically. Is it me? I tense up. I’m feeling naked and vulnerable.The laughing finally stops, the woman leaves, and the massage continues.
I relax into it again as she does my legs, then my arms, then my back, then my lower back, then the top of my bum, then my cheeks (I go with it), then the skin between my cheeks…
It’s about now I involuntarily tense up. She’s getting dangerously close to my lady bits. Dangerously close.
My mind is racing. Have I paid for a happy ending massage? What the hell is a traditional Vietnamese massage anyway?
Five minutes later I’m pleased to learn that a traditional Vietnamese massage does not come with a happy ending.
To finish off this incredibly awkward hour the lady asks me to sit up while she massages my shoulders.
For the first time in an hour she speaks to me. I interpret it as, “my, how long your hair.”
I reply: “thanks, yeah, I’m growing it out.”
She repeats her question and me my answer. This goes in for a while until I realise she’s in fact asking, “how long you here?” As in how long you in Hue.
I say “just the night,” to which she replies “you beautiful.”
It remains to be seen whether she was in fact saying “you beautiful” or “Hue beautiful.”