Not much surprises us when it comes to spas, only because we’ve had the fantastically good fortune and opportunity to visit a wide range of them in many different countries. All that changed when we landed at Myanmar’s HeHo Airport (the country also known as Burma).
That’s because the baggage handlers were the masseuses. Their spa? The dusty, dirt parking lot outside the terminal. We wouldn’t have believed it if it hadn’t happened to us.
Different? Yes. Delightful? Absolutely.
Our Abercrombie & Kent travel guide, Goldene, escorted us through the airport’s arrival gate to collect our luggage, as she’d done throughout our travels within Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Bags collected, we headed for the car she’d arranged, which awaited in the parking lot. As the driver arranged the bags in the truck, the young men who had walked our bags out with us nodded and smiled, then two of the four each took one of our hands. At first, we were hesitant. Who wouldn’t be, as you don’t expect strangers in an airport parking lot to start touching you, even if they are baggage handlers (or maybe especially if so)?
But as each man started performing a little massage on our hands and wrists, they smiled shyly and we returned the unspoken message ‘We’re not sure what this is, but OK.’
Quickly, the hand massages turned into whole arm massages. We laughed now, thinking these guys were giving us a little farewell bonus in hopes of a good tip, perhaps.
Just to the edge of the parking lot, near our driver and waiting car was a two-story building with a little shop selling water, soft drinks and snacks. Out front were tiny stools where you can sit and enjoy your snacks.
So, before we knew it, our baggage handlers had enlisted their two counterparts, and stools suddenly appeared for us to sit. Just as quickly, we each had two men involved in this unexpected massage: one working on each of our backs; the other on our legs. Our smiles now erupted into a gregarious, laughter-filled exchange with our guide, who in turn interpreted to the parking lot fellows: “That feels really good.”
Surprisingly, we told her, these guys had real talent. At that point, we let all hesitation go and went with the flow, which is always good advice whenever getting a massage - yes, even in an airport parking lot.
In the end, as a joke, Fletcher actually “stretched” out on two of the low-to-the ground stools – a bit precariously – as if asking for a full back massage in the position you’d take on an actual spa massage table.
Everyone laughed; the guys nodded and grinned, though his two “masseuses” instinctively reached for him ready to deliver more relaxing kneads and long strokes. We suspect they would have continued working on our tired travel muscles for another hour or more if we’d let them.
Goldene announced, though, that it was time for us to go. On our behalf, she gave the gentlemen $30 for their 30 minutes of work to split among them, “and they were very happy,” she reported.
We were likewise happy to have received a totally unexpected four-hand massage in an airport parking lot on the other side of the world - an unforgettable travel memory. Yes, we told Goldene, it was indeed the best parking lot massage we’d ever had.