It wasn't until I was face down on the table having my bare buttocks spanked, that I wondered if my request for a head and shoulder massage had been misunderstood.
I was on a two day cruise around Vietnam's Halong Bay: a shelted nook of the South China Sea that is peppered with 3,000 small islands. These pieces of land are part of the limestone sea floor that was exposed as the water level shifted and then worn into individual islands through the acidity of the rain water. The bay is now a World Heritage site, claims to harbour a dragon or six and is also where James Bond breaks into a stealth ship in 'Tomorrow Never Dies'. It was a spectacular visage only marred by the fact I had a headache.
Similar to the way the Inuit language claims to have 15 words for 'snow', I categorize my headaches into multiple types. This particular pool of masachistic delight is low level pain that mocks all analgesics and can last for a week. While the discomfort doesn't prevent me going about my day, by the time we get to day three, most people who still like me also happen to be out of town. This day marked the start of day four and I had woken up smacking myself on the forehead in a fit of furious frustration. Since no one seemed to have learnt anything from that, I had moved onto trying my first ever massage.
I might have protested when my trousers were hoicked down to expose the top half of my rear, but being already topless, prostrate on the massage table and being ordered around in Vietnamese, my defenses were ... compromised. Feeling that discussion was out of the question and genuine sexual abuse unlikely, I made fish faces at the pot of scented water I could see through the face hole on the table and thought of England.
Mercifully, after that first firm strike, the attention moved to further up my back and the second half of the massage did indeed focus on the desired upper region. Thirty minutes later, I no longer had a headache. I am unsure if that was due to muscular stress relief or being provided with something else to REALLY think about.