Thai Massage in Mui Wo
You get 45 minutes for about 12-13USD (tip included). Mom treated me. Walk in from the rain with Mom who is ushered into the chair by the front entrance. I’m told to climb up the green stairs—candles on the side of every other step. OK. It’s authentic. This means that the people seem Thai and not Filipino. Not that it makes a difference. Somehow I don’t think that Filipino massage would do as well. Well, I think British massage might even do worse. And I’ve never heard of American massage.
Beige satin curtains separate the cubicles. There are 3-4, hard to say. In one, I overhear a chatty Filipino woman client. The Thai masseuse points to the middle cubicle. I go to the bathroom. Clearly someone lives in this building. The floor is totally wet despite mats and there are toothbrushes and toothpaste.
The toothpaste is Darlie, Stephen told me before that this was formerly Darkie, yes as in black/negro, as in the derogatory word DARKIE and it remains, despite its letter change, still offensive and a bigselling toothpaste in Southeast Asia. Asians are obsessed with white skin. You’ve never seen so many whitening products advertised in your life. But more on that dirty subject another time.
A low shower nozzle indicates recent use. Somehow, a damp bathroom with water all over the mats and lower walls does not make for an inviting massage. But what do I expect? What am I paying for, after all? A massage or a place to pee?
I go back to my cubicle, strip down and put on the batik pants and shirt on top of the pillow. She comes in and begins by pressing on my back. I try to explain in sign language and basic words like BABY BIG and BABY HEAVY that my lower back is killing from lugging around a 32 pound (or thereabouts) 2 year old. She nods. I motion the neck cracking gesture and nod my head NO. I will not do that neck cracking stuff. Forget about air pockets being released. I can’t stand it. It scares me.
I start to hear Mom chat below and laugh. Mom doesn’t really do massages. I remember taking her to Kunming and her laughing whenever the masseuse touched her shoulders.
Press. Press. I do lots of exhaling. But I’m not totally relaxed.
Is it the deafening drilling next door through the walls? That ole melodic song of Hong Kong?
Is it the cell phone ringing in the cubicle next to me? The disco ringtone and then the woman shouting in Cantonese and having a conversation in the middle of her massage? Twice?
I continue to hear mom laughing downstairs. She’s too ticklish for a massage. Oh well. She’s having a good time.
Then I start to relax just a bit thinking about this authentic Southeast Asian experience. I start to laugh because I somehow think about all those design books that advertise Japanese zen living, when the truth of the matter is that the majority of the Japanese live in crowded packed small apartments without a tatami mat or tea set anywhere. I think of this because I think what is the Thai thing really? Crowded conditions. Interesting textiles. A bit of dirt. A random orchid in a vase. It reminds me of the Thai massage I went to in the Valley in LA on Ventura Boulevard. You entered from the parking lot and had to pass the kitchen where they were whipping up food, ironing clothes, and watching Thai soap operas.
And I start to kind of laugh thinking about the drilling and the woman shouting on her cell phone. After all, this is Hong Kong. There is nothing relaxing about Hong Kong ever. Ever. I may be in Mui Wo, population 3000, but it’s still possible to have a totally urban experience here.
Massage done. I get up and go downstairs. Mom has enjoyed her neck/shoulder chair massage—they even gave her some extra time. I’ve enjoyed my back massage too.
A day later. I get sciatica on my right side. Mom will go again, but I think I’ll have to go to another place. I pop two Tylenol. Yep, Mui Wo Thai massage.