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Pains And Pleasure Of A Thai Massage, Courtesy Of Chiang Mai Prison Inmates

Getting a massage at this women’s prison in Northern Thailand has become a tourist attraction. One reporter undergoes the not-so-tender treatment – always under the watchful eye of prison guards.

In Thailand, you can even get a massage in a market...
In Thailand, you can even get a massage in a market...
Christine Dohler

En, a prisoner at Chiang Mai's women's prison, is working on the soles of my feet -- with a stick. She laughs and asks in English: "Tickle?" You bet. In fact, it hurts like hell. The 22-year-old spends an hour kneading my feet with her hands and applying pressure with the wooden stick.

On a mat nearby, an American tourist is undergoing the torture of a full-body massage. The masseuse stamps on the woman‘s legs with her feet, and draws the upper part of her body back into what looks like an impossible position. Thai massage can look and feel pretty brutal – especially when taking place in a windowless room next to a prison.

And yet the prison, surrounded by high walls and barbed wire, has become an attraction for tourists who come to hike in the northern part of Thailand. By training inmates to give Thai massage, the facility offers its 1,400 female prisoners the opportunity to make some pocket money while they are still behind bars, and perhaps a legitimate way of earning money after their release.

The massages take place in an unremarkable little building across from the prison, in a room with rows of chairs. The walls have flowers and butterflies painted on them. Ten masseuses kneel in front of the clients – tourists but also locals – to rub (and club) their feet. One of the masseuses is En. She had to complete more than 100 hours of training before being allowed to practice. An hour's massage costs just under five euros, and she gets to keep half. She says she's saving the money for when she gets out.

"Prison is not nice"

Normally when you have a massage you close your eyes and give yourself over to complete relaxation – not here. What with guards patrolling outside and peering through the door if any body-pounding noise seems particularly loud, the vibe isn't very comfy. There's also piped-in Thai pop music – and the pain.

Why are you in prison, En? She smiles, and I'm surprised to see she has braces. Like all the other masseuses, she's wearing a pink and white top with pink linen slacks. Her long hair is held back with a clasp. "Cocaine," she replies and I'm sensing that she's not saying more because her English isn't up to it.

Still, she's able to get across that she got nine months for drug use, and has still two months to go. She shares a cell with 25 other women. "I'm happy I get out soon: prison is not nice," she says. She knows what she wants to do after her release, and it's not drugs – or tourists' feet.

En wants to study computers, start a new life. What she earns doing massages will help her realize her plans. The massage is nearing the end, so I have yet to discover whether all the pain yields feet that feel like they're walking on air. But even if that's not the case, I already have the feeling of an hour, and five euros, well spent.

Read the original article in German

Photo - avlxyz

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Is Disney's "Wish" Spreading A Subtle Anti-Christian Message To Kids?

Disney's new movie "Wish" is being touted as a new children's blockbuster to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary. But some Christians may see the portrayal of the villain as God-like and turning wishes into prayers as the ultimate denial of the true message of Christmas.

photo of a kid running out of a church

For the Christmas holiday season?

Joseph Holmes

Christians have always had a love-hate relationship with Disney since I can remember. Growing up in the Christian culture of the 1990s and early 2000s, all the Christian parents I knew loved watching Disney movies with their kids – but have always had an uncomfortable relationship with some of its messages. It was due to the constant Disney tropes of “follow your heart philosophy” and “junior knows best” disdain for authority figures like parents that angered so many. Even so, most Christians felt the benefits had outweighed the costs.

That all seems to have changed as of late, with Disney being hit more and more by claims from conservatives (including Christian conservatives) that Disney is pushing more and more radical progressive social agendas, This has coincided with a steep drop at the box office for Disney.

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