Friday, 23 September 2011
It’s been way too long since I was in Thailand, and I am suffering withdrawal symptoms. I miss the warmth of the sun, and the warmth of the people. I miss being able to step straight into the ocean; I miss cocktails on the beach. And I am in desperate need of an elephant jup, a snotty, banana-y, slobbery trunk kiss on the cheek!
But it’s not just my soul that requires some Thai hospitality – my body is also screaming out for attention. Bound to my desk in Sydney, both time and financially challenged, I’ve neglected this wretched carcass I dwell in. My back aches, my toenails are a mess, my hair is straggly and unkempt, and my teeth could do with a polish. In other words, I need to get back to Thailand quickly, before I fall apart!
In Thailand, indulgence is not a dirty word – it’s something to embrace. Need a massage, or perhaps a facial? Wander a few steps down the beach, or step out of your hotel onto the street – there’s a salon on every corner. Need some dental work done? Thailand is one of the cheapest and best places to correct your smile.
Let’s break it down, purely from a financial perspective:
Massage: From luxurious day spas to roadside stalls, a massage – whether a vigorous, gymnastic Thai massage session, a relaxing oil rub or a reflexology foot massage – is synonymous with Thailand. The popularity of the spa industry provides fantastic career opportunities for many Thai women, with even convicted felons from Chiang Mai Prison receiving training while they are behind bars to ensure a productive trade when they are released. A one hour Thai massage costs as little as 150 baht (A$5), with 400 baht (A$13) an average price.
Equivalent cost in Sydney: Around $65.
Nails: A pedicure in Thailand is a lovely, relaxing experience, with a fabulous foot massage usually part of the deal. A pedicure using good quality OPI polish costs around 250 baht (A$8); you can even add nail art such as pretty flowers for an extra 50 baht.
Equivalent cost in Sydney: approx $40.
Haircut: To have my hair cut, coloured and styled in Sydney requires taking out a second mortgage, so I tend to save my hair treatments until I get to Thailand. Not only can you get a decent cut, style and blowdry for as little as 250 baht, but that includes a blissful head massage as part of the deal. Even top end salons such as Hair World in Bangkok’s Siam Centre charge as little as 400 baht for a new style, with colouring starting from 1200 baht.
Equivalent cost in Sydney: at least $75 for a shampoo, cut and blowdry, and around $150 for highlights.
Dental: Thailand’s cosmetic dental industry is booming, with many Westerners travelling there specifically to have corrective work done on their smile. Australian and US-trained Thai dentists operate from spotless, high-tech clinics, with everything from extractions to implants at staggering cheap prices. While I am yet to brave a treatment beyond tooth cleaning, I am sufficiently convinced that if I do require major dental work, I will definitely have it done in Thailand rather than break the bank here in Sydney. A simple scale and clean at Chiang Mai’s Dental 4 U clinic costs 600 baht (A$20); to have a wisdom tooth extracted costs 2000 baht (A$66). Major work such as implants cost around 45,000 baht ($1,500).
Equivalent cost in Sydney: Clean and scale – around $120.
So as you can see, a visit to Thailand saves me around $240 just for the basics of a simple beauty regime. I simply cannot afford to be there, as soon as possible. My body needs it!