One Hour in A Chop Cambodian Massage Parlor
I was on my way home with my friend, Yoseph, and three other guys, one of whom was a charming Cambodian young girl, his best friend. We had just finished our two- hour nice dinner and chat in a Cambodian restaurant in the outskirt of Phnom Penh. It was about eight p.m. when we rode the motor bike along the main street crossing the Mekong river. Yoseph and I were dropped next to the railway station and we decided to walk along the main road, wanting to have a sightseeing and exercise. Motor dob riders slowed down when passing us, keeping asking if we needed a ride.
The two-way main road was wide and quite busy. Pavements of about four meter in width were on each side. Motor bikes, private and public, were passing in a low speed and many were with more than two persons on them. But the pavements with Cambodian flower trees, as they are called in Indonesia, were lonely. We both were the only passers-by. In fifteen minutes walk, we arrived in a crossroad after which I saw more persons in the pavements and some chop & massage shops. “Let’s drop in. I was here once,” Yoseph said. I indicated my consent and we came into a chop & massage shop. A young lady who was sitting on a chair on the pavement greeted us, smiling. Yoseph spoke a bit Khmer to the girl, and she seemed to understand what he said. Three ladies were having dinner on a bed in the living room, and another girl was watching tv. Smiling, they offered us the dinner in Khmer. I just smiled and shook my head saying no. I took a chair and watched the tv, where a local drama was on, something I didn’t understand at all, while Yoseph was talking to the ladies.
One lady then led us to the back part of the house where three beds were there on an open room. Yoseph opened his t-shirt and lied on the bed. The young girl, who kept smiling and spoke Khmer, prepared tools for the chop massage. She took a bowl with about 30 small glass cups and asked me to lie down on the other bed. She was a talkative and friendly girl. I prefered to sit on the bed, watching how she worked.
She lit a fire to a stick with a round cloth on it after putting it into a glass with some petroleum. She then put the fire into the glass within a second and put the glass, upper part down, on the back of Yoseph. His skin protruded into the inside part of the glass. She then repeated the same thing with other glasses till all Yoseph’s back was full of glasses. While the glasses were on the back, she gave him a massage on his feet, beginning with stepping on them.
This was my first observation on the parlor massage and I wanted to know more. I looked into part of the room, trying to understand the context. The young girl again asked if I would be treated the same. I told Yoseph to tell her that I would but with a different girl, preferable the younger one. My concern is child prostitute and I don’t need to know much about adult women prostitution. I though that kind of place might also provide sex services, just like the one in Indonesia. The girl called out a name, but the one she was calling was still in another room giving a massage to a customer. I waited for about five minutes before she got out and came to us.
She was a girl of about nineteen years, cute, pretty and friendly. In her blue jeans and black t-shirt, she was charming and did not at all indicate that she was a prostitute. She behaved politely. Yoseph spoke some Khmer to her while lying on the bed. She smiled and then laughed, looking at me. I had no idea what Yoseph told her, but she then held my hand taking me to another room. The room was 3×4 with a bed, a fan and a cloth case. Closing the door, she asked me to open my t-shirt and lie on the bed. She spoke Khmer and used a gesture which made me understand what she meant.
I opened my t-shirt, only my t-shirt, and lied facing down on the bed. She started giving a massage on my feet and back. In a tarzan language, I asked her if she was always dressed up when serving a customer. Smilingly, she indicated that she did not want to be undressed while massaging. I didn’t seem to believe what she said, but I felt safer if that was true.
She gave me a massage for about thirty minutes, during which she sometimes asked me questions in Khmer and I had to answer them in English. We were completely disconnected. Neither she nor I understood each other.
Soon I then realized that she began to give a kind of an erotic massage. Not wanting to loose my control, I woke up and said I preferred to give her a massage instead of her giving me a massage. I thought I could easily control my desire when touching a girl than when being touched, during which she could do what she wanted. She was laughing. I asked her to lie down and started massaging her. My mom is a good massager and I have learnt how to do it. She seemed surprised on how I did the massage. She enjoyed it and I said she had to pay me instead of I had to pay her. Of course again I used a tarzan language to do this, something which she could easily understood. I could have given her an erotic massage or done even more, but that would be beyond the purpose of my observation. Slight sin is unavoidable in research on this topic, but I may not indulge my self in doing more.
I asked her to wake up and I walked out of the room. I thanked her, but then she told my friend in Khmer that she had to thank me for having given her a free massage. I took a photograph of her, for she was my first informant on the issue I am studying. While I did not record any conversation, I think I have got valuable data from a reliable source by participant observation.***