Here I was today, having incredibly rich and inspirational moments through our motor bike tour, eagerly anticipating coming to the hotel and writing all about them…
… and then after dinner, I decided I would follow the neon signs that I saw as soon as we pulled into our hotel in the capital city of the Central Highlands, Buon Ma Thuot. Those signs screamed out at me “Massage! Sauna! Jacuzzi! Spa!” I couldn’t wait. After two full days on the back of a motorbike, my body was already melting just at the thought of a great massage and then a hot tub to top it off.
But first, Khuong and I went to a fabulous dinner at a make-your-own summer roll restaurant – they serve plates of all the fixings and we wrap our own and eat … and eat … and eat. All for $2 and amazingly fresh and wonderful. I was the only Westerner there and it was superb. Okay, enough about dinner.
Khuong went directly to bed after too much rice wine with his friends last night and I went directly to the massage place. The Reception Desk had happily and helpfully responded to my question about it and directed me to the 5th floor.
As I walked in, two young women and a young man all jumped up simultaneously to greet me – I appreciated their enthusiasm and managed to figure out that it was $5 for massage and spa. No foot massage available, even though it was on the “menu.” No problem. I went back to my room to put on my bathing suit (against my religion, of course, but I ‘m being the respectful guest after all) and returned to their welcome once more.
As I was putting my things in the locker, I noticed a woman come in wearing a red teddy and the shortest red shorts I’d ever seen. I didn’t pay much mind to her, but certainly noticed her – who wouldn’t?! The man gave me a towel and directed me to the sauna. I proceeded in, feeling ridiculous wearing a bathing suit into a sauna, but so be it. It was a steam sauna, complete with herbs and plenty hot. As I was lying in the there I noticed a man getting into the jacuzzi outside the door and was surprised to see his naked ass – “wow, he’s naked? Hhmmm, and I’m sitting here in lycra in a sauna? WTF?” Whatever, I continued to enjoy the sweat and once I had enough, opened the door and the man who had been helping me rushed over again and directed me to the dry sauna.
As I headed there, I noticed a large carving on the wall of a woman and a man, the woman naked nuzzling up to the man. Geez, I thought, how provocative, but didn’t give it much more mind. As I’m writing this, it’s adding up a whole lot quicker than it was for me in the moment.
My 2nd sauna complete, I came out and was directed towards the stairs to the massage area and noticed yet another woman with yet another skimpy red outfit on. A different woman brought me upstairs and into a long, dark corridor with at least 10 rooms, one after another lined up along the left side. The rooms too were dark with just a small massage table in each of them. As we moved inside, finally, finally, it was dawning on me that these massages were the happy-ending variety; but I had a feeling mine might be different.
She proceeded to give me a 10, maybe 15 minute massage which was just about the worst I’ve ever had – squeezing and poking and doing nothing anywhere close to resembling a massage. When it was over, she directed me back downstairs to the locker to get my things.
I pointed towards the jacuzzi, thinking I could at least get a few kinks massaged out there, and came across that naked man from earlier. This time, he was towel clad and kept yelling, “Hello! Hello! Me Vietnam! You?” Over and over until one of the red-clad women came along and a hauled him off to the massage area. I wondered what could possibly be similar about our massage experiences.
Then I lowered myself into the hot tub, thinking this would at least be the saving grace of the whole debacle – it wasn’t very warm, but the jets would be good on my back, I reasoned. As I sat there looking around, I noticed several silhouette cut-outs of women, which looked something like this:
It all began to sink in. Here I was, the lone Westerner, a woman no less, fully-clothed in a bathing suit acting the provincial, conservative one in a straight men’s sex club which was not only masquerading as a ‘regular’ massage and spa place, it also let me in! All I could do at that point was laugh my ass off. Now I looked even more ridiculous, laying in the hot tub hysterically laughing!
As I thought more about the hot tub, though, my thoughts turned to the fact that it wasn’t that hot. And I wondered what might be growing in this not-hot-enough-to-kill-whatever-might-be-floating-around in it tub. Yikes! I n no time, I was out of that damn not-so-hot tub, into a shower as hot as I could stand it, and headed out of the place as quickly as I could! <laughing my ass off again as I write this!>
The ever-present helpful man and his women cohorts were all there to bid me goodbye. “Good?” they expectantly asked, beaming their wide smiles at me. “Ohyes, very good, very good!” What the hell was I supposed to say? How about “Is this some kind of joke?!”
I giggled my way back to my room, the kinks still in my back and still up on the 5th floor!