Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thai Foot Massage

Or- Thai Foot Massage OF PAIN

If there's one thing unanimously agreed upon by all former Thailand goers it is that the Thai foot massage is the best thing ever in the world ever, since they found out about feet- "first thing you do when you get off the plane is get a foot massage", "have you gotten a massage yet?", "Did you go?", "Did you do it?" So a bit late and a lot curious, we went and did it.

As I walked in, I gotta say, the notion of some poor lady from some third world country rubbing my feet for $4 like some sort of servent just didn't seem right in the first place, but, as it often does, curiousity got the better of me and so I sat uncomfortably in a very comfortable chair. To my right, a guy who was mid-massage had his eyes closed, something I first interpreted as a sign of relaxation, but later on had suspected he was perhaps trying to hide the horrible, horrible pain for fear of offending the nice lady or perhaps the fear of forgoing his manliness.

To my left sat Breck for a seemingly innocent, painless pedicure.

In comes a grumpy old lady and sits before me. Grumpy was understandable, I thought, rubbing foreigner's feet for a measly living is not exactly any little girl's dream job and that poor old lady has to do it every day, but that all sort of flew out the window the minute she laid her hands on me. Soon she will teach me who is the servant, and who is the master.

Whether she was raised by the fighting tribes of Northern Thailand or grew up in a Shaolin monestary deep in the mountains, honing her deadly martial arts skills and building her super-human finger strength, or perhaps working as an undercover police woman for years on the mean streets of Bangkok and then retiring to the relatively stress free life of crushing foreigners' feet for a living, or simply raised by wolves, is unknown to me to this very day. All I knew at that point was that this woman could probably crush a rock with her bare hands if she thought she was
giving it a massage.

She held my feet with her vice-like grip and began to mash them up into what must have been some sort of pulpy feet paste. I close my eyes, "relax", I tell myself, "this will all be over soon".

Soon I was wearing the same expression as the guy to my left- on the outside I am the epitome of calm, I am the slow flow of a river, I am a cool summer breeze, I am birds singing in the forest. On the inside I am a man whose feet are being slowly and thoroughly broken by a grumpy woman with fingers like knives.

I start breathing like a pregnant woman. Then, I went through what I like to call "The Four Stages of Thai Foot Massage." (The bargaining stage takes place before you enter the place):

Denial- "This will all be over soon," I tell myself. "How long could a 30 minute massage possibly take anyway? I mean, it's already been, like, 3 minutes, right? So that's like.. A tenth! Yup, this will al.. OW OW OW! .. all be over soon. Just get through the initial pain and you might just start enjoying this!".
Depression- I am NOT enjoying this, OW OW OW, why does it hurt so much? It shouldn't hurt so much, oh god she's not even done with one foot, THIS IS GOING ON FOREVER AND WILL GO ON FOREVER".
I look to my left and see Breck enjoying her little pedicure.
"I should've gotten a pedicure :( "
Anger- "WHY? Why is she doing this to me? She must know this is painful! WHY IS SHE SMILING AT ME? This is unproffesional! She is the worst lady in the whole world, I HATE YOU LADY, you hear me? I h.. OWOWOW.. Hate you.."
Acceptance- "I guess a wheelchair wouldn't be so bad.. I just hope my insurance covers it."

Then suddenly it was over. I tried moving my toes and much to my surprise I found that they were still there. I opened my eyes, I was done.

.. Or so I thought... Apparently, the foot massage includes a short back massage. So she tortured me for five more minutes, and *then* I was done.

My liquid feet carried me away as fast as they could lest the lovely lady suddenly remembers another complimentry form of torture she'd like to try on me and that was the end of it.

P.s- I am alive and well.


^on our plate: Mango sticky rice for being a good boy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Walking along the streets of Istanbul, passing astonishing historical figures full of beauty such as the Blue Mosque, I can't help but look past them and focus my attention on the vibrant and detailed patterns surrounding me.



Every floor tile is intricately detailed (and sometimes tiled from floor to ceiling!), every store window full of perfectly displayed, colorful, and enticing treats, even the trees have been planted in what seems like, the perfect pattern.


My most recent artwork has been full of patterns and just like when you buy a car, you suddenly see the same car everywhere, I am going crazy snapping photos of patterns as if it is all I see! Before I left America, I was taking a wonderful porceleain/ china painting class with my Mamaw hosted by her best friend. My first series (on a short hiatus) consists of an outline of each country I have visited filled in with small patterns reflecting the cultural art and sites around me. I have big shoes to fill when I start on Turkey!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Turkish Delight

   It's odd to think this place, that now seems so familiar, was as alien to us as the planet Mars when we first landed a few hours ago.

The Blue Mosque at sunset
   Hours of walking around, talking to merchants and friendly people in the old and lively streets in awe at the sight of hundred year old, gigantic, worn down mosques- crumbling, yet still indescribably magnificent; the way only the eyes of two young travelers on their first trip can be, have all made the place seem much less foreign. I guess getting lost is the only way to really get to know a place.

   The real treat though (no pun intended) was the food.
   If you'd have asked me to impart one all inclusive, most important advice to any would-be traveler it would be this- Try everything.

   In Turkey, I realized there's a lot you can learn about a culture from eating its food. Once you break down that barriar, once you've walked around for hours and got to that little spot on the corner where the guy is barbequing the most delicious meat for $2 and you sit down on a dirty plastic chair with the rest of the locals, that's when you really feel like you're a part of a place, a culture, up close and personal.

   It changes everything- Those weird, squishy wads on a stick suddenly turn into weird squishy wads of deliciousness. That shady guy with the weird looking mustache and the old rusty meat stand turns out to be a master chef (with a weird looking mustache) and an alright guy altogether.
Blending in with the locals.
   Yes, there will be misses, like the roasted cobb of corn that turned out to be some sort of edible form of yellow charcoal, but there will probably be a lot more good than bad.

   There are other stories to tell, like the Iranian mother and daughter telling us about the difficulty of living in crazy Muslim Iran or the cop that was all like "Texas! Yes! Bang bang!!" pointing at his gun, much to his joy in a confusing mix of being super friendly and scaring the shit out of us, but the train is arriving at the airport, and I need to wake Breck up, so perhaps in a different time and place.


^on our playlist- Turkish sadness music (basically people singing while sounding like they're about to cry).
^on our plate- Those squishy wads. Oh, and delicious delicious Lahmajoon.