Indonesia Gets Hands-On

JAKARTA, Indonesia — There is a masseuse in Jakarta who made quite the impression on me.

I’ve never been a big fan of getting massages. Always happy to join friends when they go — and, especially, pay — for spa treatments, I rarely think to go on my own.

When Josh mentioned the idea, I was lukewarm in my response but agreeable as usual.

“I’ll have her come to the house,” he said.

“Woo hoo!”

“It’ll probably be an old woman,” he said.

“You misunderstand my enthusiasm.”

After biking around Jakarta for the previous few days, I was exhausted. My legs felt leaden, and my lower back ached. I didn’t feel much like moving, though I’d still leap at every chance to see more of the city.

So, ordering in sounded pretty good.

Sitting on the same couch that sparked the “jumping monkey” shenanigans, I was looking up some information on my trusty iPod Touch when the doorbell rang.
“Your massage is here,” Josh said.

I hadn’t thought anyone would actually show up, much less this soon. Since I was bunking in, well, a bunk bed, the massage table ended up being a spot on the marble tile floor with a rug and a kid’s blanket beneath me.

For what seemed like a day and a half, the masseuse worked through every joint in my body, including my arms, forearms and metatarsals with old-lady hands so strong they could make Jean-Claude Van Damme beg for mercy.

During a restroom break, I groggily muttered to Josh, working at his desk, “It’s never-ending.”

My neck and shoulders came back to life. My calves regained feeling. My pain reflex had never felt more present. It was as if I were being put back together.

When it was all over, Josh handed her 100,000 rupiyah — about $10, including tip — and asked how it was.

“It was the best massage of my life.”

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