“I left school when I was 11. I made and used shampoo from butterfly pea flowers and I learned to walk on top of my grandmother.”
I was invited me into Homprang’s home in Tawangtan Saraphi just outside of Chiang Mai. She smiled as her mind drifted back to her childhood.
“I never learned to read or write. But I knew how to heal.”
It’s an old practise from farmers when they used to work hard in the fields. After a laborous day the family would return home to give each other massages. She didn’t know how to give traditional massages so she learned to walk on top of others, like her father and grandmother.
“I’m better with my feet than my hands”
She is the only one in Thailand who knows the Thai walking massage.
Most people would be a little reluctant to have someone walk on top of them but I was game! She was about my height and a very sweet lady – I was sure I was in good hands.
My body was flattened like a pancake! She tightroped along my back on stilts, pressing her foot into my shoulder and into knots of my quads and calves. Even into butt muscles I never knew I had. I could hear my body cracking and she would say, ‘that’s a good one”.
A good healer she says, uses their body to feel and listen to how each part reacts to their touch, weight and movement. The secret is that you really need to know the body.
No kidding. She definitely knew my own body better than me!
Homprang’s grandmother Paht had 17 children.
She delivered her when she was born and remembers growing up in a small village on the Burmese border with no roads or electricity. Back then, her grandmother taught her to use what came natural like using bamboo to cut an umbilical cord after birth and her body to heal people. She now passes her healing methods onto her students.
She doesn’t teach walking massages but womblifting (yep that’s what I said) is one of the reasons people come to her from all over the world (used to heal women with fertility problems) and nuad boran (Thai massage). Thai massage is not your typical massage. Forget the herbal oils and back rubs you’re used to – your body becomes more like a doormat. Someone throws their body on top of yours and your joints get pushed and pulled in all kinds of directions.
It looks painfully torturous but it feels like heaven.
You can even stay overnight – Homprang’s quaint countryside home with rustic cabins her family helped build by hand.
She also generously shared her delicious, home-cooked Thai lunch with me. There is something specially warm and inviting about the hospitality of Thai people – they love to show you their way of life. When you’re in Chiang Mai I hope you have a chance to meet Homprang and hear her stories. She may even show you her Thai walking massage!
Have you ever had a walking massage?
Thank you to Homprang and her husband Christopher for inviting me to their home-retreat. I was a guest on assignment for Tourism Thailand as part of their #ThailandInsider campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.