I am in Vietnam on my honeymoon and I had my first massage ever today. I was expecting a relaxing hour of remedial bliss but what I got was 45 minutes of awkward discomfort.
Upon arrival, the waiting room was abuzz with masseuses milling about waiting for their customers to arrive. I was introduced to a young man who I was told would be my masseuse today. Ok, I thought, no problem, it is only a back rub.
After being led to the massage table I was given some privacy to undress. I was also given a rolled up pair of underwear that I was told were mandatory attire for all customers. Upon unrolling the small package, I was confronted with what appeared to be a pair of women’s panties. The lace trim and the lack of “junk-space” was the dead give away. The option of changing into these did not even cross my mind and within a second I was out the door insisting that I would be wearing my own boxer shorts, no questions. After contemplation, the little Vietnamese man agreed.
“Please laying down on your stomachs sir”, I was prompted. Doing as I was told, I was sure that the awkwardness was now over and I could enjoy my massage. “I will be starting on your legs sir”. Great, might as well start there I thought to myself. After lifting the towel, the masseuse proceeded to pull my boxer shorts a considerable distance up my butt crack, exposing the bottom half of my left cheek. Shooting bolt upright , I encouraged him to leave my shorts in place.
I will give the man credit at this point and tell you that he was pretty good at his job (apart from reading my discomfort) and the massage side of my experience was pretty good. 30 minutes in, and feeling very relaxed, I was told to “please rotate over sir”. “No mate, just the back is fine this time”, I politely replied. He continued to rub down my shoulders before he very intimately interlocked his fingers around mine for what I can only assume was to gain more traction to ply his trade. I again made some polite excuse for him to pause so I could roll my hand into a closed fist.
Having taken some kind of offence, the man pleaded with me to flip so he could “rub down my front side”. That was the point of no return. I sat up and thanked him for his work before quickly dressing and heading for the hills.
Obviously there was a lot lost in translation in this ordeal but I don’t think this is just a cultural thing that I was not aware of. As you can guess, I am not in any hurry to book in another massage anytime soon.