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Ever since my first massage in Koh Tao I’ve been looking for a chance to take a course and learn the techniques myself. Something my family and friends at home have been very encouraging of, not surprisingly. So, since I was grounded in Chiang Mai for two weeks while my laptop was going through diagnostics at the apple shop I decided it was the right time for it. I had done a little bit of searching online for massage schools and I looked at brochures in my hostel. I went with Sabai De Ka Massage School after visiting to inquire about the courses and finding that the owner was such a lovely lady. She was very welcoming and made it very easy to pick out the courses. I decided to do two courses. A 1-day oil massage course and a 2-day traditional thai massage course. For the three days it cost me a total of 5400baht which was just under 200AUD.
Day one was the oil massage course. I quite like oil massage personally. I find it relaxing and it can be combined with stronger styles if you like more pressure. I also find that my skin feels amazing after the oil has absorbed. It’s the best moisturiser. I was to be doing the oil massage course with a young woman from Japan and we would be models for each other to practice on. But first we had to be shown what to do. For the first half of the day our teacher would demonstrate the techniques before we got a chance to practice in the afternoon. My classmate was the first to be the model while our teacher showed us the techniques for massaging the back of the legs and the back. We get course books with pictures and write our own descriptions of the technique down as it is demonstrated to us. I think this is the only time in my life where I have actually taken notes properly in a class!
When it came to be my turn to be model I had the terrible realisation that I had forgotten to shave my legs that morning! I had done it the day before so they weren’t too bad but I still felt a little bit bad and embarrassed for not having perfectly smooth legs for this. Oops. I was to be the model for the instruction on the front half of the body. It was relatively easy taking notes while our teacher was massaging my legs. It became difficult when she used my writing arm to demonstrate the technique for massaging arms. Those pages in my course book are still oily. After the instruction portion was over it was time to break for lunch and then we would be back for our turn.
When we got back we only had three hours left for both of us to fit in our practice. My classmate was to go first. She was a bit unsure but I did get a decent massage. Though by the time she finished I only had a little more than an hour left for me to practice. Luckily I was at an advantage. We had both had the instruction in the morning but then I got the chance to pay attention and have it demonstrated again while my classmate was practicing. So when it came to my turn I was able to get through it pretty quickly and easily. We finished the class right on time. We get to keep our course books for our reference and we get issued with a completion certificate as well.
I woke up the next day for the thai massage course and I was so stiff from the day before. I hadn’t paid enough attention to my posture while I was practicing. It wasn’t good because I knew that the thai massage course was going to be so much more demanding. I made my way to the school a little slower than the day before and only just managed to arrive on time. I would be taking this class with a gentleman from the United States. We were given special massage attire to wear including really odd pants that you have to fold in and tie at the waist. Thai massage is performed with the receiver fully clothed but they need to be in loose pants so that their clothing doesn’t cause resistance when you manipulate their body. Jeans definitely don’t work for this style of massage. I found the pants really cheap at the Sunday Market in Chiang Mai so I picked up a couple of pairs.
The thai massage course was split over two days. The first day was to work on the front half of the body and the second day we would be working on the back. My classmate was going to be the teacher’s model for day one which included working on the front of the legs, feet, arms and hands. And I would be the model for day two working on the back half of the body. Thai massage is very much about stretching and pressure points. To put it another way; It hurts. It’s definitely not one for those looking for relaxation. But supposedly it’s good for loosening up tired muscles. Once you’ve recovered… I can’t really attest to it because at the end of the day I slipped on the stairs and ended up quite battered. There was another class doing foot reflexology that had finished before us and I have a feeling that some of the oil on their feet was left on the stairs. When I put my foot down on the stair it slipped out from under me. Luckily, I was holding onto the door at the time because it caught me a little. It wasn’t so lucky for the door though. It was one of those aluminium fly screen doors and my weight bent it out of shape. Apart from a nasty scrape on my arm and a bruise on my back where it hit the edge of the steps I was fine though.
I had a lot more fun on the second course. I think that is largely to do with my classmate who is a really funny guy with a positive attitude. I thought that our teacher was a pretty serious person when I first met her. But, he had her in stitches for most of the two days. I really enjoyed the massage courses and I’m looking forward to practicing the techniques when I get home. If I can find any willing volunteers. Hopefully I can remember it all, though I do have my books for reference if I need them.
I would recommend Sabai De Ka Massage School to anyone looking at learning the art of massage while they’re in Chiang Mai.
Images are property of Sabai De Ka Massage School. They are uploaded to Facebook for the subject’s use. I have only used photos that have me in them since I was unable to take my own photos during the course.