Even though I live in Asia, I really don’t get many massages. In fact, I’d say I’ve averaged only one or two per year over the last four years! That’s a shame because not only is the level of skill amazing here (after all, massage was started in Asia!), but they are usually so cheap. I’ve seen an introductory promo for a ½ hour or even one hour massage advertised for only a couple US dollars many times before.
I know it’s what these folks do for a living, and they WANT more people to get massages, but I just feel weird about being pampered and treated like a king – like it’s way too spoiled and opulent for me. But my weird hangups aside, every blue moon I do not just want a massage but NEED one.
Such was the case this week when I did something super screwy to my back that had it all seized up, aching, and going through spasms. It’s probably something that was triggered when I tried to be a hero and dead lift a bunch of weight to show off, but that’s another story, too. So last Sunday night, my back a mess and nothing much to do in quiet and slow Dumaguete, I decided to go get a massage.
My Experience at the Royal Thai Massage
There are plenty of spas and massage parlors around (all legitimate with no monkey business from all I’ve heard and read online), but for some reason, the one that I remembered specifically was Royal Thai Massage. I probably recalled this one because I drive past it almost every day on my way to the Boulevard – the main tourist area – but it also stands out because it’s in a dodgy area, right across from the industrial port and at the start of the “bad” neighborhood here in Duma. But the building housing Royal Thai Massage is all pinkish-red with no windows, and their name painted huge across the face of their establishment, so it’s hard to miss.
I asked my habal habal (motorcycle taxi) driver to take me there without knowing what to expect. Inside, it was a small waiting area but very clean, with calming dimmed lights, feint relaxing Thai music, and it also smelled great. A friendly staff member greeted me at the front desk and explained the options without going into too much depth, and I chose the one-hour package that cost about 250 Pesos ($5 USD). That was more than the special rate advertised on the front of the building outside, but still a great deal, so I didn’t mind.
A nice spa attendant gave me a pair of flip-flops (big foreigner size) to wear indoors, and then took me over to a sitting area where I bathed my feet. Then, I went into a small massage booth and laid on the table. Instead of separated rooms, they only have curtains that pull close, but it was still plenty private. She gave me a great massage for the full hour and was very friendly and professional. She did work on my back a lot and also my neck and shoulders and legs to help relieve the tension. However, it was a little hot in there without even a fan to move the air. But all in all, Royal Thai was a good massage experience, and I can’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t be back again soon – and definitely before my once a year massage!