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The Lanna Massage With Trin Paleeriam

Isha Andaya tries the indigenous Thai treatment.
The Lanna Massage With Trin Paleeriam Isha Andaya tries the indigenous Thai treatment.

After five days of back to back fashion shows, an invitation to try a new treatment at the Mandarin Oriental Spa was a welcome proposition. For the ongoing Thai Festival at the hotel (it ends on June 7), Trin Paleeriam, a Holistic Health Specialist at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, is in town and available to give those of you who are lucky to get an appointment a taste of traditional Thai massage.

I, however, opted to try the second option, a Lanna Massage, as I was intrigued by the introduction Erika Aquino of The Mandarin gave me. She explained that it was an indigenous massage technique that was once popular in Northern Thailand but is rarely practiced today. In fact, Trin is one of the few therapists who still performs this somewhat ritualistic massage.

Called Tok Sen in Thai, it has three procedures and Trin did each methodically, working from my legs, to my arms, and ending with a head massage. First was an oil massage, which in itself was so good that I wouldn't have minded if the entire hour and a half was focused on just that.

Next, he picked up a small gavel and peg made of tamarind wood and began tapping this rhythmically along the muscle line. While the thought of this sounds strange, and possibly painful, it was actually quite soothing and relaxing. It has a way of undoing those stubborn knots and easing muscle tension in a way that's a whole lot less stressful than the way other masseuses try to knead it to submission.

The last bit of the process before moving on to the next part of the body is the application of a warm herbal compress. The compress itself looks a bit like a large cloth dumpling (it's even warmed in a steamer). Trin prepares you for the heat by first warming his hands then touching it to the skin before fully pressing the compress down. He then works it along the muscle line, the heat and smell of herbs very relaxing.

Overall, it was a wonderful process. I felt relaxed yet fully refreshed at the end of the massage, not sleepy and sluggish the way I do after other treatments. The knots in my shoulders were relieved and not sore.

While most of you might feel uncomfortable about the thought of being massaged by a man, let me assure you that Trin exuded such a peaceful aura that I felt secure in his hands. (He has received over 1,200 hours in training in Advance Massage for Healing and in Royal Thai Massage from the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand.)He kept me covered in a warm towel, exposing only the body part that he was working on. The Mandarin Oriental Spa also provides disposable shorts (as long as boxers) for you to wear during the treatment to make sure that you're well covered where it counts.

Trin is only in town until June 7 and if you hurry, you might be able to book an appointment to try the Lanna massage yourself. I highly recommend it.

The Lanna Massage is at P3888 and lasts for 90 minutes. For more information on Trin Paleeriam or to book an appointment, call 750 8888 or email momnl-spa@mohg.com. The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is open daily from 9:00am to 11:00pm.

—Isha Andaya, Managing Editor

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