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Worst ever massage from the burping masseuse

Not only did she burp throughout my treatment but I truly thought I might perish at the hands of my brutal Taiwanese masseuse!

Painful massage

I was in Taiwan on a decadent Spa Press Trip. I know, how divine, you say. But this treatment was one to remember for life!

I’ve never had an all over body massage before (and I mean all over). And certainly not an all over body massage by a Taiwanese woman with hands like a builder who has little comprehension of pain thresholds.

While the door remained open so she could shout/chat to her colleague in the next room, I can only describe my experience as if I was a piece of timber in a carpentry workshop.

She first rubbed so vigorously I thought surely I would burst into flames, then she planed over and over on the one excruciating spot until the knot was worn smooth.

If there’d been a video camera looking up at my wincing face through the hole in the table, it would have been hilarious. My mouth alternated from Elvis lip-curling to baring teeth like Mr Ed as I tried to absorb the pain, eyes squinting ever tighter and clenching my teeth so I could hear the ocean in my ears.

After my neck, back, bum and legs were finally finished burning and stinging she was ready to flip me over and start on my internal organs. NO!

I had already tried to communicate through gasps to my non-English speaking carpenter that the pressure was too hard and was clearly not being understood, so I was determined not to let her loose on areas unprotected by a rib cage!

The famous Eternal Spring Shrine, Taroko Gorge

I tried to say thank you, that I’d had enough and began to make moves to leave the table, but she clearly wasn’t finished and didn’t want me to be short changed.

After much shouting to her colleague next door about the rebellious piece of four-by-two trying to leave the work bench, a face popped around the door and seemed to understand my breathless request for less pain.

In Mandarin, she conveyed to the builder that “no hard” was required and for a while things went smoothly…

I’ve never had a tummy massage before so was quite interested although it felt a little strange, but when she peeled the towel back and massaged my boobs I didn’t know where to look. I shut my eyes – just as she burped. Seriously! She had already punctuated her treatment with a few of these, but really – while bending over my chest?

I thought burping (and even farting) during a massage was reserved to the client! And in fact, I’ve heard therapists say they take these bodily functions as the ultimate compliment!!

Suffice it to say, massage in Taiwan is a varied experience.

The next day I was treated to a luxurious hot stone massage at The Wellspring Spa at Silks Place on the clifftop of the mighty Taroko Gorge that ended with me melting in a bathtub overlooking marble boulders the size of cars in the river.

Silks Place spa Taiwan
I sat in this spa at Silks Place overlooking stunning Taroko Gorge


Oh and then there was the couples massage on a cruise ship with my husband some years later where my therapist had a heavy cold. She spent the entire entire massage either sniffing or actually blowing her nose whilst keeping one hand on my back, then once she’d thrown the snot-bearing tissue aside, she put the evacuating hand back on me and continued where she left off. This happened at least five times in my $200 treatment #notimpressed!

What about you? What’s been your worst massage experience? I’d love to hear it!SaveSaveSave

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Saturday 24th of December 2022

U can read up about burping masseur. Its quite an intriguing thing that is hard to explain by science but it happens a lot. Basically it's the masseur absorbing some of your body's "bad wind" and expelling it thro her own body. V common in Indonesian/malay massages (Google "masut angin"). I didn't know in Taiwan too! Did u feel any better after the torturous experience?

Megan Singleton

Thursday 5th of January 2023

Oh that is fascinating. And a little freaky! No, I can't say I felt better than a pure pampering massage.


Sunday 13th of November 2022

Good for you, taking your sense of humour with you on holiday. Always makes things go more smoothly. 😌

Megan Singleton

Sunday 13th of November 2022

I agree. A sense of humour is one of life's essentials!

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!