There was a time when I would go to Thailand for work 3, 4, sometimes more times per year. At some point late in the year the immigration officer at Bangkok airport would look at the arrival stamps in my passport from the trips I’d already had and give me a quizzical look.
Sometimes I’d go to Bangkok to go on to visit Fairtrade rice or coffee farmers in other parts of the country, but as my team grew, I went more because Bangkok was just such a hub for Asia. It was the perfect place to have a team workshop, quick meeting, do a round of personnel recruitment, etc. And the hospitality industry makes everything really, really easy. No wonder so many international organizations have their Asia hubs in Bangkok.
More often than not, when I went to Bangkok I’d have gotten on the plane at Frankfurt airport on Thursday night or Friday afternoon, arrived in Bangkok on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, and would have to fly right back to Frankfurt on Sunday night, land Monday morning, take the train up to Bonn, shower, change and get myself to the office.
Needless to say, jet lag was not an option. Fortunately, Bangkok, indeed, Thailand, has the best jet lag remedy and preventative in the world: the Thai massage. For those that are unfamiliar with the Thai massage it’s like doing an hour or more of extreme acrobatics with your body. Except that the Thai masseuse does the acrobatics with your body, contorting and stretching beyond the point you think you can go without ripping or popping something. And by the end of it all you’re pining for more. Your body feels like rubber, your mind, relaxed, your soul, refreshed.
You can get a Thai massage down every soi (side street) or in any hotel with an attached spa in Bangkok. There are Thai massage places in shopping malls too. If you’re venturing to other parts of the country, no worries-Thai massage places abound everywhere in the country.
My all-time favourite, and most visited Thai massage place is also one of the most authentic: the Thai massage school at the Wat Pho. Wat Pho is a beautiful Buddhist temple known for its statue of the reclining Buddha. Somewhere in the back of the grounds of Wat Pho is the massage school. You get there, get you name on the wait list, wait. I’ve always found that the wait didn’t feel too long, and that it took less time for my turn to come than expected. My biggest complaint: Wat Pho’s massage school closes at 6 pm. For my taste, the times I got to Bangkok airport on Friday afternoon, had all day meetings Saturday/Sunday, and then flew out Sunday night, I’d never get the timing for the massage school right. And then I’d have to ‘settle’ for the good, but ‘not-as-good-as-Wat Pho’ alternatives in one of the side streets.
So, if you’re in Bangkok: take more time off or go on vacation all together, and get yourself to the Wat Pho massage school. If you’re flying out of Bangkok at night, and especially if you’re flying in cattle class for many, many hours, get yourself a Thai massage from somewhere else even if the Wat Pho is closed.
But seriously, at least once while you’re in Bangkok (or BKK, if you’re going to be cool about saying it) get yourself to Wat Pho: