Saturday, January 8, 2011

Grievous Bodily Harm - $7/hr

Today I write to you in pain, having discovered a little more about the human body.
A little more than I care to, in fact.
In fact, a small part of me wishes I could go back in time and make different decisions.
Different decisions that might lead to a different outcome.
A preferable different outcome might be one where I don't want to SHOOT MYSELF.

Here is a typical joint found in the human body:

This is a representation of my joints at present:

Let me go back to the beginning.

One of the things that made me most excited about coming to Cambodia was the fulfillment of a profecy told to me long ago by a seasoned traveller. He described a kind of nirvana land of eternal massages. I love the idea of having someone rub nice-smelling things into and all over you, and all you have to give them in return is money. Siem Reap promised parlours of pretty women ready to rub me down for a pittance, and I was keen.

Enter unexpected twist in plot.

Having an international moral compass and sense of adventure led us to the 'responsible tourism' section of our Lonely Planet guides. They suggested "Seeing Hands Massage" - a company which supposedly employs and is run by the blind. Perfect. We feel like prophets. They charge seven dollars an hour. Now we feel like Gods. A stroll down the street and we spot the sign. We follow the sign down the alley way. We turn the corner down the alley way and find the 'parlour'.

Now, I'm not one to bag out blind people, but you could not describe this establishment as a 'parlour' by any optimistic stretch of the imagination. We are shocked. We had such unwavering faith in Lonely Planet, surely they could not have decieved us so?
           'But they are blind.' I remind myself crudely - 'perhaps they can't see how bad it looks?'

We are greeted by a man rushing down the steps in suprise. Apparently they don't actually get too many customers? He has been in some kind of accident which has disfigured his face, but still has sight in one eye. Normally this would garner reverence, if not pity, for him, but he flatters us (read: makes us uncomfortable) with a decent look-over as he says hello. We are shuffled quickly into a very dark, very small room which has three beds crammed together, and no windows.
I wonder if I will ever see my family again.
We are told to lie down and another, fully blind, man enters the room. He attempts to turn on the air conditioner. He fails. He attempts again, including a few well-aimed thumps for good measure, and fails again. The first "masseuse" is climbing onto the back of my friend.

It goes on like this for ten minutes. The light in the room is finally turned on, and graces us with about 2 volts of energy.
The sheets are not very white.
I don't want to put my face into this towel.
Hands grasp my shoulders - and then freeze-
       'Toilet please. One minute.' He says.
       'No worries' I say.
Now I can hear him peeing.
The toilet door is two meters from my bed.
This door is not closed.
The flow is stinted until climaxing.

I know.

I listen intently, waiting with baited breath for the sound of fawcets in action. A tap, running water, please god, please please please. If he doesnt wash his hands I'm going to cry.
Nothing after the flush, and dry hands return to my shoulders.
I cannot believe this is happening, and just when I think I have found the resolve to leave the blind man in the dark, it begins.
His thumbs sink into the space between my shoulder blades and I inhale so sharply he laughs. It is a sweet kind of agony only akin to scratching one thousand mosquito bites or the Roman manner of emptying ones' stomach so as to eat more delicious banquet. He moves down my spine, assaulting every disk and insulting my pride. I am weeping like a baby. Precise points on my back are incredibly more tender than others, and I concentrate on willing him to avoid them. I have a slight reprieve whilst he simply runs his fingers from my neck down to waist, and then BAM. He uses one finger and pokes the precise location of my worries. His specificity combined with brute strength-of-phalanges makes me dig my nails into the bed frame and emit a gurgled kind of pleasejustkillme noise. To which he replies -

'You are mine.'

You have got to be kidding me. This guy knows absolutely minimal English and can't even make conversation, yet he utters three words which, when strung together, exercise the immense power to freak the shit out of any young female. This intensely frightening, painful and awkward to-and-fro continues for another forty minutes. No limb is left untouched. No muscle is left in peace. No shred of my self respect is left intact.
When the hour is up I can barely stand, he finished with my feet and cracked every toe thrice. THRICE. I can't even feel them anymore, and the room is so dark I can't see them. I have lost my toes. We pay them three times the quoted price, and as quickly as we can hobble, get the hell out of there.

Stumbling out the tiny door frame, the sun blazes into my retina, making me squint my face up like a munted hermit closet creature. This wonderusly revolting expression is made just as I turn to say goodbye, and I am facing the man who still has sight in one eye.

And then we run.

Wanna immasculate an enemy, get tears from a pirate, punish your child or kill off your elder? I can personally recommend 'Seeing Hands Massage' - Lonely Plant Cambodia page 136.


  1. This is Hilarious. LOL stuff for sure . . .unless your there on the table with those three words . . .you are mine. ahhhhhhhhhhhh then not so funny!

  2. Hahahahahahahahahaha oh my God, that is just too good. Little does he know, you are actually mine. Missing you heaps bestie. I'm finally catching up on your blogs now after no internet for the past couple of weeks. Love xxx


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