If you're anything like me, despite it only being February, you're already feeling the tension after a few short weeks back at work after the holidays – and a massage is on the cards.
But instead of your usual, oiled-up massage – which, if you're anything like me, doesn't do much for the knotted muscles and sky-high stress levels – why not try out a traditional Thai massage instead?
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to the recently opened Ey Spa at the V&A Waterfront for a full-body Thai massage experience. And from start to finish, it really is an experience and an entirely different culture.
But first – the technical stuff. According to Ey Spa's website, traditional Thai massage "uses a combination of acupressure, reflexology and gentle stretching to manipulate your body to release tension and create a feeling of well-being.
"This kind of massage is hugely beneficial as it aids in detoxifying the body, boosting your immune system, increasing blood circulation, improves your posture, strengthens your joints and helps to tone your muscles."
Sounds good to me.
When I arrived, I was told that their massage therapists are all from Thailand and spoke little English. After signing in I was introduced to my therapist, Nee, who greeted me with a bow – I wish I'd thought to look up Thai etiquette before going, that's how authentic the experience was! I returned the bow awkwardly before being led to the massage area and asked to take off my shoes before entering.
If you've never been for a Thai massage before, it's quite a different experience. Instead of disrobing, you're given very loose cotton garments to put on – and instead of a massage table, you lie on a mattress on the floor. Nee made sure I was comfortable before she got to work – and what work she does: I think she may have been the person that the phrase "dynamite comes in small packages" was invented for. She had unbelievably strong hands and was very aware of my body and my problem areas – and was also very good about asking if the pressure was too much and if I was comfortable throughout the experience.
And what an experience! No lazy rub downs with bottles full of oil here. I was prodded, twisted and clicked – she laughed every time my notoriously clicky joints kicked in, and she let out a small cheer of satisfaction when she clicked my back. It's a lot more vigorous than traditional Western massage and a lot more physical – and yes, there are very few places off-limits for this full-body experience – so if you're uncomfortable with being touched, this is probably not for you. There's also a lot of physical manipulation – with the therapist bending and twisting your body into various unbelievably cool poses.
I think I've been fully converted from Western massage after this. It made such a difference – no chance of you going for a massage and feeling as though you'd never been. I honestly felt completely rejuvenated afterwards – like I could take on the world.
The full Thai massage experience costs R450 for 60 minutes – but there are also a range of other treatments available, which can be viewed on their website.