Have been enjoying a few spa services - including my first ever Thai massage and now I may never leave Thailand! I'm staying in a touristy area called Kata Beach where every 2nd or 3rd storefront is a massage shop - all offering a long list of services for very little money (e.g. 1 hr. Thai massage for 250 baht or $9). Impossible price. So, I've been walking by - dropping in occasionally before turning in for the nite for a massage or a foot rub (divine!!) Anyways, during the day the shop's empty - 10 -20 beautiful Thai women all dressed in matching uniforms just hanging out, fanning themselves, waiting waiting waiting for someone to stop by. Looks kinda sad and makes me wonder how so many businesses can survive. But around 7 pm the joint starts jumping! Women and many men splatted out in lounge chairs with dopey ( I mean blissful!) expressions on their faces - having footrubs, pedicures, headrubs etc. It's shockingly busy - even at the Fish Spa/ fishtank outside!
My first Thai massage was a wonderful, deep tissue, body manipulating droolfest! Well except for the occasional groaning and grunting. Was that coming from me?! (Maybe just a little sore from Hot Yoga classes and firm bed at the hostel). My Masseuse and I kept bursting into giggles - probably not appropriate behavior... but seriously, at one point she was standing on the backs of my legs ( I think... I was groaning and drooling ... what do I know?)
So I may have to change my plan - forget about the Buddha sightings and have a massage service every day I'm in Thailand!!
Re: Impossible Prices. I talked to one of the shop owners about her business. Minimum wage just rose in Thailand to $300 baht or $10 a DAY!! Business owners are not happy (according to local and Bangkok newspapers), but how do people live?? I feel like it's my duty to have a massage every day just to keep these women employed! Also - her store rent was about $300/ month - if I got the translation correct - but there are between 10-20 people employed at any one time so there are expenses! I'll find out more on future visits.
Finally - I have to squeeze in a visit to the Fish Spa- picture a big, coffee table sized fishtank with seating around it . Sit on bench, drop your sore feet into the water and watch hundreds of minnows swarm your feet and lower legs, nibbling off the dead skin. Sounds creepy-gross I know but looks fun, supposedly feels great and is highly beneficial! Sadly, I think the fish get paid only slightly less than the women do.