Sabii, Sabii: Lessons from a Thai Massage!

LaneBy Christopher Lane

Our first night in Bangkok, Thailand had so much potential to be epic, spontaneous, lively, adventurous, and even down right crazy. Instead, a group of us discovered that we were severely jet-lagged and would benefit far more from a night of relaxation. We decided to get a traditional Thai massage. This would be my first ever professional massage and oh boy did I desperately need one. We walked to a place called Spa Land (thankfully it was written in English or we would have walked right past it). “Sawadee krab,” we said as we greeted the lady at the front desk, “how much for a massage?” She handed us a menu that said 400 Baht for a two hour Thai massage. Wait, two hours? Hmm, 400 Baht. Wait, 400 Baht for two hours, meaning two hours of peace and heaven for 12 bucks. OF COURSE, SIGN ME UP!

After we celebrated the cost savings of this endeavor, we proceeded into the wash room. At this first stop, we received a foot cleansing with cold water and was compelled to learn the word “juck-a-tee” which meant ticklish. Very ticklish. And after several giggles, we headed into the main room for the Thai massage. Let’s begin!

Relaxed and rejuvenated with the Bangkok sunset.

Relaxed and rejuvenated with the Bangkok sunset.

I was led to a dimly lit room with a floor mattress, a change of clothes, and a curtain to separate myself from the others. No time to worry, I went in fearless and was prepared for the best massage of my life! And that it was. Chin; foot; knee; arms; the Thai masseuse used every party of her body to give the best massage ever. However, something happened half way through that truly made it the best massage and one to remember for a lifetime. I asked a simple question that sparked an enlightening conversation. Not knowing if the masseuse would understand me, I said “can you teach us some Thai?”

The response was an absolute yes followed by a laugh and a smile. She and the other masseuses were more than happy to teach us everything that they could within the span of our two hours. The conversation seemed like it made their night (judging by the many laughs and words exchanged), and it definitely made our night. We learned so much (about Thai culture, norms, language), more than we could remember! Out of all the words, we will always remember “sabii.” It means “feels good” and the entire experience made us feel great, from the price; to the massage; to the knowledge gained; to the joy we shared in that dimly lit room. Lesson learned: never hesitate to ask, and never hesitate to talk. Conversation is unpredictable, oftentimes rewarding, and, of course, “sabii!”

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2 Responses

  1. Leah Xu says:

    Massages, culture, and laughs. That sounds like the perfect combination to get over get lag! I really enjoy learning about other’s cultures, it’s always surprising to realize that they can be so different in other respects and yet so similar. I have also noticed how they always seem to appreciate the effort you make to learn their culture even as they attempt to learn yours.

  2. Zoddy says:

    Knowing words in another language is so important. Even if they are simple and you can only use them in certain circumstances, you will be sure to make the locals happy and even more friendly. Glad you got to use “Sabai” to its fullest extent!