Sunday, 25 March 2007

A touch of Asia - in Vilanova

The massage establishment which we had directly in the Sukhumwit Road sub-street where my family used to live in Bangkok, was considered up-market with local standards. The massage therapists were properly trained, always provided you with special clothes to use for the massage and worked in a perfectly hygienic, still intimate, Thai style decorated environment. However, as often, a premium price in Thailand is a bargain with Western European standards. As far as I remember it, a two hour massage would cost the equivalent of € 15-20. Two hours might seem a lot but they disappear fast, bearing in mind that a proper Thai massage should allow a dedicated time for each part of the body and usually half of the time is spent on the legs, something very uncommon in European massage schools.

For all the pain novices use to associate with Thai massage, my wife and I learnt to enjoy it and used is as an energizing escape from daily work. Throughout our years in Thailand, we were regularly reminding each other not to forget to find the time for a treatment, fully aware that things would one day be different. And totally different they are, not only here in Spain but everywhere outside Thailand.

When we first came to Vilanova, we were quite sure that we would have to go to Barcelona to have a high quality massage. Therefore, we were positively surprised when my wife discovered Mond Vertebral (Rambla Exposición, 31; phone: 93 814 10 52), quite close to where we live. This place offers such a long list of services that we first were afraid that they would not be able to do anything well. Luckily enough we were mistaken. Since we spend a lot of time in front of computers, what we want a massage to focus on is the back, neck and shoulders and it turned out that this place is specialising in treatments of
the spinal area.

The facilities are far from as spacious as we were used to in Thailand and the whole interior is an eclectic mix of influences from all parts of Asia. I would not say that it is stylish at all, but it does put me in a relaxing mode. The European people who run the place are at least as professional as the people we went to in Thailand and have the advantage of being prepared to openly discuss the treatments as such. This we never experienced in Asia and I do not think it was only for language reasons. In my opinion, Europeans are more used to question things while Thai people accept them, especially if carried out by an expert in a certain field.

This way, for example, we have finally grasped what moxa treatment is all about, something we came across in Asia, but always brushed aside as superstition. At Mond Vertebral we have learnt that it is a heat treatment with herbal sticks, making use of the same principles as acupuncture. I have certainly become a believer in it, since it liberated me of a spot pain which I had in my spine for a long time. While my medical doctor could not help me, the massage therapist using moxa managed to do so.

Mond Vertebral is a popular place and only accepts scheduled visits. They charge approximately € 35 an hour which I, although more expensive than what you pay in Thailand, consider a fantastic price - one of the benefits of living in small town, and not downtown Barcelona.

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