Asia, Culture, Food, Travel

Cheap Thrills

If I was going to receive manna from Heaven, I would hope it would be in the form of an enchilada. Can you tell I’ve been jonesing for some Mexican food? Well, God must’ve heard my plea because pulling up to our hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I see a sign, two beloved words: Fresh Tortillas. There just happens to be a Mexican restaurant about three steps from our hotel. And I’m not ashamed to say it was our first meal here.

Chicken enchiladas

Chicken enchiladas

In Southeast Asia, you can find a lot of really cheap stuff. The food is cheap, the souvenirs are cheap, the transportation is cheap. But, as in the rest of the world, sometimes you get what you pay for.

We got a great deal on an inexperienced tuk-tuk driver

We got a great deal on an inexperienced tuk-tuk driver

One of the best cheap things are the massages. To dip your toe into the local massage scene here, I’d suggest the thirty minute foot massage. The going rate for one of these is $3. And they vary in intensity. You’ll never get two just alike. One of mine included a lot of reflexology and pressure points in the feet. Another one I got was a lot of massage through the calves and knee. I just knew I was going to have bruises after that one, but surprisingly, I didn’t. A lot of it borders on feeling good and hurting, I’m not quite sure if that is normal, but it seems to be the norm here.

One of the many $3 foot massages

One of the many $3 foot massages

Since I experienced the massages for the first time last year, I thought I’d wade a little deeper into the metaphorical pool. Last year in Laos, I had a full body massage, which consisted of being laid down on a mat on the floor in loose clothing and having a tiny Lao woman crawl on top of me and manipulate my limbs in different positions. I’ve never had any type of physical therapy or been to a chiropractor in the States, but I feel safe in saying that these massage sessions would be a cross between massage and physical therapy/chiropractice. (Is this what they call the work of a chiropractor? If not, it should be officially adopted as the word to use) As strange as this sounds, I felt really relaxed and in good shape at the end of it. But, I had never had the Cambodian version of this type of massage

When you approach one of these massage places, they usually have lounge chairs set up outside where they conduct the foot massages. If they see you coming, they’ll bring out a menu, much like at a restaurant, of all the different things you can get done. There’s quite a list to choose from and varying time frames. I chose a full body massage with lotion, just to try something different. They led me to a back “room” (some sheets held together with binder clips) and had me lay down on a table, which I was surprised by. Everything seemed pretty typical of what I would expect the American massage to be like and then finally, she climbed on the table with me, and that’s where it departed. If you’ve never had anyone balance on their knees on the backs of your thighs and walk their hands up your back, popping every vertebrae along the way, I would highly suggest the experience. It’s an hour long adventure of “what are they going to try to do next?” and “I don’t know if I can stretch that way.” Exhilarating and terrifying all in one package, all for the low, low price of $5.


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