Talk to the Foot & Number 40 – what really happens in an Asian Massage joint

When you have had as many massages as I have you start to know what works for you and what doesn’t, and when you strike gold or a really good masseuse you tend to go back, or in my case a few times. You might recall my time on Phu Quoc island Squirrels Playing & Slow Progress

Whilst on Phu Quoc I treated myself to a massage offsite at Sofitel M Gallery which was a few metres up the beach. I say “treated” as the price was up there in terms of Asian massages. Despite the glorious surrounds the young woman who did the massage (Vietnamese ) talked the whole way through it. Miss On had good English and I understood enough to hear the entire story of her German boyfriend. Who, as it happens was considerably older than her (another blog for another day). Anyway, I digress. I treated myself for a number of reasons, one of which was trying to tackle the health issues I was having, another because I needed some care having had a pretty rough week prior. The last thing you need is someone talking through the whole 90 minutes.

My time on Phu Quoc was a solitary few days until the “Americans” turned up in the Bungalow next door. Lovely couple, highly educated and boy he could talk.

Talk and talk and well, he found me no matter where I was on the island. Breakfast, doing laps in the infinity pool he was still talking … now as much as I enjoyed the company having had a few days on my own, there comes a point where you think enough is enough and I can’t hide because you are in the bungalow next door. This gentleman did give me something worth while however, at the airport ( yes they were on the same flight home!) he handed me a card “Royal Foot Massage” a distinctive card and some conversation ensued about this particular place in Saigon.

I didn’t think much of it until a couple of weeks later another friend based in Saigon said let’s go for a massage this afternoon. I agreed and we bundled into a taxi only to arrive at Royal Foot Massage in Mac Thi Buoi Street. The distinctive brand stirred something in my mind and I thought that bloody American is still haunting me! Turns out he did me a big favour and this place is an institution here Royal Foot Massage 

Royal Foot Massage has been run for over 20 years and I believe is run by the same family – I seemed to recall reading about it on site but nothing on the web but TripAdvisor comments. I have now been four times during my time in Saigon. I now also have a preferred masseuse ( pictured above) I opt for the blokes as they are strong and I am a knotty little client. So my Number 40 – they all have numbers probably because you’d never remember their name afterwards as you are sort of in a dream like state post treatment.

I know people who don’t like massages, I actually hate my head being massaged, but let’s face it these places can be intimidating. Point in case with Royal FM – you enter a reception then in darkness get led down a corridor then up a few flights of stairs to find rows and rows of armchair areas. It’s all done in an armchair – and I have had my doubts about this but my number 40 soon allayed any misgivings about that.

The arm chairs lie right down to a horizontal position, but before that, you are asked to change in to shorts ( I had long pants on) supplied by them in a plastic bag. Complete darkness and the whirr of ceiling fans they only distraction. Your feet are placed in a bucket of warm water to soak whilst tiger balm is applied to various trigger points.

I opt for 90 minutes so that a fair bit of time can be spent on feet and legs. Reflexology in this place is just a given and they do it well. Number 40 seemed to intuitively know my weak points (old ballet injury) and worked his way to the point where you flip over           (they lower the armchair flat to accommodate) and then slow pressure strokes until I realised he’s standing on my back and using his heels right on the top of my buttocks to get at that major gluteus maximus. These guys are deft at undoing bras without removing anything – so be prepared! Some yoga stretches holding his arms and legs they use their entire body weight for deep tissue affect. At this point I went into a meditative state and started to see a green aura and lights. I looked this up later to discover that this indicates healing of heart and lungs. Green Aura  Made sense to me after my first two months in Vietnam.

The final stages are a rub down with hot towels and hand wipes scented with menthol. Reflexology hurts – well it does for me but number 40 seems to have found a way to get to the source without me kick boxing him into the next stall. Worth a visit if you are in Saigon for a short or long time.

Published by The Food Manifesto

I am a life explorer, food forager, choice crusader, eco educator, leader, teacher and head and neck cancer survivor. I've loved food all my life, my mum taught me good eating habits and how to cook nutritious food with loads of flavour. As a little girl I lived next door to a wonderful cook Pat Heidrich, I watched as she rolled pastry, filled cupcakes and prepared light as a feather sponges. My love of licking bowls and beaters started early. I grew up and explored my passion by studying cooking, trawling food markets, buying good equipment and experimenting with the tastes and cuisines I love. This blog is intended to share my passion, inspire you to try ...and fail, provide tips and every day good advice about cooking, shopping for ingredients, and planning menus for you, your family and friends. What's your food manifesto? talk to me about how I can help you.

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