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September 16, 2017 – 2:31 am

In this insightful gem, journalist and life coach Wanda Hennig writes wisely, hilariously and sometimes poignantly about sex and food; living for three-and-a-half years at the San Francisco Zen Center; moving solo from one continent to another; meditation; creative mindfulness strategies and more. Cravings: A Zen-inspired memoir about sensual pleasures, freedom from dark places, and living and eating with abandon (Say Yes Press). Edition Two (Mouth Orgasm edition) published August 2017 (ISBN 9780996820523 paperback; ISBN 9780996820523 eBook).

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Home » Culinary Travel, Featured, Lifestyle Features, Thailand travel, Travel Writing, World Travel

Thailand travel 5. Kamala massage makes you Happy and Smile

Submitted by on August 1, 2016 – 1:52 am
Smile restaurant Kamala.

Umbrellas go up at Smile when the drizzle comes down.

Smile and say hello. I offer that as an aside as my Number One tip for women traveling solo.

OK, you don’t have to smile and say hello to the tuc-tuc drivers when their unsolicited calls of “tuc-tuc madam” start driving you crazy. At such times, you are permitted to stare off into the distance, feign deafness: ignore.

I choose the oil massage at Popeye’s. Have always, when having a massage, had an oil massage. I am achy. And when in Thailand, must have a massage.

I recall my first trip to Thailand. A media trip. For the South African edition of Cosmopolitan magazine. “The best of the East” was the theme. Set up for the mag by some tour group dude.

“Could I go?” the message came through to me. Could I, indeed.

“You must have a couple of massages,” my then-editor, Jane Raphaely, instructed. Sure thing.

Kamala beach Buddhist monastery

View to Kamala beach Buddhist monastery by the river.

And so it was that next door to the Oriental in Bangkok, where we were staying, in a massage place booked via them (maybe their own, I don’t recall) I was massaged by two women simultaneously, one of whom walked up and down my back, which I thought a total trip.

Not the Oriental but Popeye’s

Now I am not at the Oriental but next door to Elle’s place. At Popeye’s.

And Nittaya Wattanaya or Nit for short is the massage therapist, whose certificate is on the wall. The cost is 300Bht. I want it to be deep and I want pain. No pain, no gain. Not true of many things, but for massages, I am convinced it is.

And it wakes me up, totally. Jet lag gone. Rarin’ to go.

When we finish, I notice a poster on the wall. It reads “Thai massage.” I thought I just had a Thai massage as was massaged by a Thai woman. But this is different. I see a little yogic man in a loin cloth in the pictures and he is getting a lot of manipulation. And the notes tell what parts of the massage deal with what parts of the body therapeutically.

I see all my achy bits depicted.

Thai massage: the real thing

Smile restaurant Kamala beach in Phuket.

Evening at Smile restaurant Kamala beach in Phuket.

“Do you do that?” I ask Nit, who gets the gist of what I am saying and points to her certificate. Indicates she went specially to school for what sounds like a long time to learn it.

“I will come tomorrow,” I say.

Today, now, is for more walking. Down the the beach and to sit at a table in the sand at Smile Bar. An easy choice as Happy is closed for the Buddha holiday.

I have a coconut shake, a Diet Coke and then a mango shake. Not hungry. Just hot and the ice in the drinks cools from the inside — over an extended period and while I write in my journal.

The lights brighten up as it gets darker. People come and go. The lapping waves meditative, comforting, relaxing. At another cafe someone has the Beach Boys playing, not loud enough to be intrusive. The people at the next table, a young couple from Holland, recount some island adventures.

At some point, suddenly, a wind comes up and the rain comes down and huge umbrellas are dug into the sand and staff hold onto them to keep them planted and the fairy lights twinkle and people laugh and it’s all delightful. Although probably not if you’re the umbrella holder.

And I linger, not suspecting that by 9:30 or 10, when I return, Elle will be in the process of rounding up a search party, worrying I took the wrong turn home.

Too few turns and too many people around to ask for that to happen in Kamala…

© Words and pictures Wanda Hennig, 2016

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