The Land of Cheap Massages

I am a massage junkie and what better place for an addict to be than Thailand.  The massages are cheap cheap cheap (less than 10 dollars for 1 hour massage) and this is the place that invented the Thai massage.

I decided that I was going to get a massage everyday.  Back home I go for Thai massages once every 2 weeks, so I’m no a stranger to this technique.  Although my therapist back home is Thai, she tickles me compared to these Thai people here.  These people are sadists.  They are pulling and poking and cracking you all over the place.  I had no idea an elbow could be classified as a lethal weapon.

My first massage was 1 hour and it wasn’t that bad.  The pressure was more than I was used to but I was able to handle it.  The second massage was 1/2 hour focusing on my back and shoulders.  The pressure was similar to the first massage but I think my body was wondering what it had done to deserve this abuse.  So for my third massage, I decided to go for an oil (Swedish) massage.  Get some effleurage and petrissage going on and have a relaxing massage.  What I didn’t realize was that for a Thai person, a Swedish massage is a Thai massage with some oil applied in the beginning.  Slap on the oil and get the elbow digging.  This lady who did this massage was a monster.   OMG.  It was so painful that she brought tears to my eyes.  I just wanted a relaxing oil massage.  Why is this hurting so much?  Oh the irony.  I have never been brought to tears in a massage in my life and this woman damaged me!

I have one more day in Thailand.  The massages here are cheap cheap cheap.  I can’t possibly give up on the opportunity to have a cheap massage.  Hmmmm….I wonder if a foot massage will be relaxing 🙂

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Getting Chinese Visa in Bangkok…Why is everything always a drama?

Now I’m in Bangkok and the only reason that Bangkok is a destination for me is that I’ve come here to obtain some visas for onward travel.  One of the visas that I needed to get was the Chinese tourist visa.  Months previous to my travels, I started to do my research to determine where would be a hassle free country to obtain it in and what documents I needed.  All the forums that I checked (because the embassy website didn’t give this information) said that the embassy in Bangkok didn’t require any proof of flights or accommodations.

I headed off to the embassy early Monday morning with my passport and photos and I’d fill in the application form at the embassy.  When I was called to the window to hand in my application, I was asked for my hotel bookings.  I hadn’t booked anything yet.  I’m planning to actually go there in 2 months time.  I was given back my application.  To me this is absurd.  You can change hotel bookings.  I had my flight details which were valued at 700GBP.  So I think that should be enough!  It was 9:40am.  The embassy closed at 11:30.  So I rushed out looking for an internet cafe.  I went in the direction of the shiny big malls that were nearby because certainly there would be an internet cafe place there.  I reached the two malls and they didn’t open until 10am!  There was still time.  At 10am I went into a cafe and was about to sit down when they told me that I wouldn’t be able to print.  So I ran the other mall and searched in there and couldn’t find an internet cafe.  I didn’t know what to do. I thought maybe if I actually put the names of some guesthouses on my form and tell them that I couldn’t print out the bookings, they’ll understand.  Back to the embassy I went.

At 10:55, I went up to the window, I explained to the girl that I couldn’t print out the documents and she wouldn’t even look at  me.  I really needed to get this visa today.  I didn’t want to have to come back tomorrow to do this all over again.  Then this British guy saw me and he’d been in on Friday and had different issues with his application.  He told me that apparently the requirements had changed only that day.   He also told me that if I went in the opposite direction to the shiny malls, I could find travel agencies that for a fee would print off a hotel booking for me.  It was now 11:02.  What did I have to lose?  Off I went.

There I was running with the application and passport in hand.  As I neared the agency, I heard someone say, “Lady, you need flight and hotel bookings?”  (You have to imagine the accent).  I turned and there she was, in all of her glory, a Thai lady boy.  “I just need a hotel.”  “Come with me.  I take of you for 300 baht (about 10USD).”  In my desperation, I followed her, I mean him, I mean her…..I followed.  This lady boy saved my life.  He/she printed this bogus hotel voucher for me and it was the most fraudulent thing I’d ever seen in my life.  It had my name on it and the dates in and out of a hotel in Shanghai for the duration of my trip.  The inconsistency was that I was flying in and out of different cities.  I had no time to get her/him to fix this.  So I just paid and left.

While I was back in the embassy waiting to go up to the window, I started to look at this voucher more carefully and realized that I had just paid money for something that was so obviously fake.   In the cancellation details, it said that I could cancel the booking before Sept 9, 2010.  There were different phone numbers with different country codes all over the document.  At the bottom, there was a place for me to sign and it had a different name instead of mine.  I handed it in anyway.  If I had to come back tomorrow, I would.

At the end of the day, I returned and voila, there the visa was in my passport.  Seemed like the embassy was just checking tick boxes and not really scrutinizing the documents tendered.  I’m not advocating dishonesty.  The only reason I did this was because I couldn’t print out a real booking.  You can only imagine how stressful the morning was.  Thankfully, it worked out and now I’ll soon be on my way 🙂