Pummeled by Inmates

Pummeled by Inmates

Paying to be let into a prison is a strange concept.  Globally billions of dollars are spent to put people unwillingly behind bars and here I was, for the second time in my life, willingly entering as a paying customer.  At least this time I had good reason, to get a massage…

Massages in Thailand are like ants, they’re everywhere.  Literally, you can get a massage anywhere from national parks, to bus stations, to street corners.  Over the past several weeks I have turned down more massages than hours of sleep I’ve gotten.  While I had been interested in trying Thai Massage, I had a burning need after three days hiking near Chiang Mai.  The problem with massages being offered everywhere though is choosing where to get one.  There is no good way to distinguish masseuses, so when I found out that I could go to the women’s prison, the decision was simple.  Really, is there anywhere I would rather go?

The Chiang Mai Women’s Prison offers massages as one of the vocational courses to “rehabilitate” inmates.  Other training which we didn’t get a chance to sample include sewing, computing and commercial cooking (there is a restaurant open to the public).  The training will allow them to leave prison and have a trade to hopefully reduce recidivism rates.  The best part is, according to what I have read, including a US Prison official who visited, is that the inmates get to keep the money they earn from their trades.  For one hour a prisoner would earn her keep on my weary body.

This was my first Thai Massage, ever.  Having had many massages in the past year (due to marathon training), I have seen it offered, but always opted for hot stone or deep tissue massage.  Due to my lack of experience, I can’t judge the massage quality.  LOCAVORista, who has had Thai Massages previously, thoroughly enjoyed it.  For me, I still prefer the deep tissue, work out my muscle knots no matter the pain involved, kind of massage.  I am probably an outlier, therefore you should definitely try Thai Massage for yourself while in Thailand, especially if you can get it done in a prison.

LOCAVORista after getting straightened out in the slammer.


  1. Relax.  You don’t actually go behind bars, the massage facility is open to all comers and indistinguishable from most massage places in Chiang Mai.  From what we gathered, the inmate masseuses are nearing release and convicted of non-violent crimes.
  2. It’s affordable.  It cost us 180 baht, which is about $6 USD for one hour.
  3. It’s convenient.  You can show up and get a massage with minimal wait.  No appointment necessary.

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{ Mar 21, 2011 - 07:03:00 } Living If | 36 hours in Chiang Mai

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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