Masseuses give up shop work for beach businesses

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In more ways than one, Thai massage is a high-pressure occupation. Some therapists, however, have eschewed regular hours and increasingly irregular tips to start their own mobile massage businesses.

Chanhom Ngamdee, 49, did just that, quitting her permanent job to join other women on Wong Amat Beach, laying mats to offer mobile massage and beauty services.

Chanhom Ngamdee quit her permanent job to join other women on Wong Amat Beach, laying mats to offer mobile massage and beauty services.Chanhom Ngamdee quit her permanent job to join other women on Wong Amat Beach, laying mats to offer mobile massage and beauty services.

“I try to mix my techniques between Thai, modern and oil massages,” Chanhom said. She starts at the legs, pressing joints and veins to get blood flowing, and moves slowly until she gets to the customer’s head.

Having also worked on Jomtien and Pattaya beaches, she caters mostly to foreign tourists, charging 250 baht per hour for massages, 100 baht for a manicure and 200 baht for a foot scrub. She said she takes home a profit of about 500 baht per day, after expenses.

“Customers like the smell of Thai oil and herbs, and they seem impressed with my services,” Chanhom said. “I hope to continue with this job for a while.”

Thai traditional massage is an ancient art that focuses on stretching the lines and pressing on points. While it originated in India, it has become a hallmark of Thai tourism. Masseuses are showing, however, that they can change with the market.