Ah yes, the ol' tropical holiday massage. It always seems like such a good idea. And not merely a good idea, but something people attach exuberant sentences to, like, "You've just got to get one while you're there!" Though from the outrageous pain of an English-less lady annihilating my calves in Bangkok, to an oily, sloppy bonanza in southern India, I've had more curious vacation massages than good ones. And then there was the time in 'Nam back in 2008.
"This one too?" At a 4-star Vietnamese resort that was so family-friendly it even had a bright and bouncy-looking kids club, this question caught me a little off guard. My masseuse was pointing at my groin — as protected by the oversized board shorts of choice circa early 21st Century — and offering a happy ending. And through the processing of what she'd said and how to respond, it wasn't lost on me that she'd almost made my downstairs region sound like a separate person.
My groin and I politely declined. Meanwhile, in another private massage room down the hall, my Aussie mate Swanny was getting a similar routine. Four of us in a tour group had decided to use a spare afternoon to find a hotel a couple of stars fancier than our own and have a swim. This was the mid-latitude Vietnamese city of Hue and after a morning exploring the famous citadel there that dates back to 1362, a bit of R&R was on the cards.
After some good honest horseplay in a pool that specifically cautioned "no horseplay" on the poolside sign, the girls went to the hotel spa for manicures and pedicures. At which point, Swanny and I decided to use the spa for a back, neck and shoulder massage each. A back, neck and shoulder massage that, funnily enough, also included every part of your body that isn't your back, neck or shoulders.
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Well, I'm pleased to say we were a pair of fine, virtuous blokes. Swanny was travelling with the lady who would become his wife and I was in the early, happy haze of a holiday romance and neither of us said yes to what was on offer that day. And that "no horseplay" sign was evidently in the wrong part of the hotel.
Why Doesn't Everyone Get Seasick?
The sensational America's Cup win for Team New Zealand had me thinking again about the mystery of seasickness. Why is it not everyone gets it? Did Peter Burling have to overcome it once upon a time? Was the young Jimmy Spittal ever paralytic with nausea on family boating holidays back in the 90s?
Speaking of family holidays in the 90s, I'm certain the most ill I've ever felt was as an 11-year old on the Interislander crossing the Cook Strait. Though now I'm thinking about it, the slowly heaving seas of the Cambodian monsoon season while on a smelly old fishing boat is up there too. If I'm snorkelling in calm waters then I'm fine, but trying to snorkel in the waves off Caye Caulker in Belize was the first time I felt nauseas just from the swimming, let alone the boat.
Apparently a third of the population are prone to some serious seasickness and up to 90 per cent of people get it at some stage in their lives. Genetics play a part and women are said to be more prone to it. There are some theories as to the causes, the most common being a disconnect between what your eyes are seeing and what your body is feeling. I like the more scientifically exciting ideas about the brain equating the information it's been given as being the same as hallucinating, therefore indicating you've been poisoned, hence needing to throw up.
But if all those theories are true — and I'm sure they are — why is it there are folks like Burling and Spittal etc. who don't suffer?
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's 'The Two', 'Coast Soul' on Coast and writes TheRoxboroghReport.com.