Ees a bloody monster am ganna die!

by Harry Clark - based in Makassar, working around Sulawesi

About the Tukang Pijit (massage expert) in Makassar


Massage is not the same in "the east" as in “the west”. It is a whole way of life for ordinary people with experts in different kinds of massage for different aches and pains and injuries. In Indonesia, there are "tukang pijit" in every nook and cranny of the country, in every village, town and city. The traditional pijit experts are old (men or woman) and this is also a standard career path for blind men, who's skills are particularly valued, but it is also a standard career path for many many daft young lasses with few employment opportunities elsewhere. The skills of the average tukang pijit vary and some of them claim mystical or faith healing powers. Sometimes, the wrong kind of pijit can do you some harm and I have heard tales of friends coming down with a heavy cold or flu which was only a hinted at before going for a pijit. “Wor lass” once had a great body massage when her back was aching after the long flight, but the pijit lass knackered her already tender and inflamed elbow injury. Of course “Wor lass” should have had the sense to tell her about it, to keep away from the sensitive area. On the other hand, for years I had a severe upper back injury which I tried to put right with all of the available UK therapies – the local family doctor- sports masseur ("put heat on it") - chiropractor ("put ice on it") - osteopath. It cost me a lot of money and time and “Wor lass” did not appreciate the ice being slipped across to her side of the bed in the middle of the night! Anyway, one lovely pijit from a lass in Makassar and the injury disappeared ............... Well OK, it comes back now and again but not continuous like before.

It is not difficult to get a pijit in Makassar, the pijit services are on offer in many places at the side of the road in pijit parlours, in hairdressing salons, in the hotels, on the beach, or you can call a tukang pijit to your house or hotel. Foot reflexology is now all the rage and many of the bigger domestic airports have a corner for this. The latest trend is for fancy spa places where you can get pampered with a whole range of therapies and treatments, including a choice of different pijits aimed at different kinds of tiredness and aches, involving different oils, rose petals and aal that. The only thing with those kind of places is that you feel invigorated from the treatment but feel sick again at the price. The normal places in Makassar are fairly cheap and you take pot-luck with the place and the masseur. It is best to try a few places and a few "artists" in that place, then stick with one that suits you best. Hard or soft? Foot reflexology? Shiatsu? Stand on your back massage? Concentrate on feet/thighs? Back? Head and neck? Broken bone setting? Sprained ankle? Up to you.

As you may have guessed by now, I am a believer! I love it, I am obsessed, and can't really live without it any more. I am always ready for a pijit, any timer of the day and night, have had all sorts of experiences, and would say that a bad pijit upsets me for days, because it is time wasted that should have been invigorating.

Now having said all that, we all know that “massage”, all over the world, has strong associations with “sexual services”. But in Makassar, pijit? .............. with extras? .............. it is not as simple as that. “Traditional massage” is very popular and the local government does it’s best to keep it “traditional”. In Indonesia, the standard (Government rules) massage places usually have long corridors with booths separated by head-height dwarf walls, closed off with a waist deep curtain, and anybody can see in if they honker down. Also, you can hear the grunts, groans and slaps from the booth next door over the dwarf walls. 

So, in the regular Makassar place, you go in, pick a girl from the photos, go to a booth, put on the pijit robe, then lie on the pijit bench, say hello to Susi or Wati or Dani or whoever, and let her get on with it. Most of the women are completely serious and dedicated to the arts of pijit, and will walk out in a fury if you so much as hint at any kind of shenanigans. So, in Makassar, focus on pijit only, decide what kind of pijit you require then choose the place and the “artist” to suit. There are many many places, from fancy to simple, and most places are very welcoming, even if you are a foreigner and you do not speak Indonesian. If, like me, you are obsessed with good pijit, it can take time to find the right place and the right "artist". You cannot tell by the photo or age because some of the younger women can be very very good, and some of the older ones have been there too long and are oriented in the wrong direction. By the way, don't misunderstand, the "young" women are generally over 20 years old and they are mostly married with babies to support. Exotic pijit is available which needs trust to perform and I knew one tukang pijit in Makassar who was an absolute world expert at invigorating the private sensitive “men’s places” but ……………….. was completely straight, and offended at any suggestion of “other services”. On the other hand, I would only let her in there once I knew I could trust her. Itsapideeleyk, shi hes noo disppeeya'd.

Anyway, the point of all this is that …………… recently …………… my normal place in Makassar was closed and I went to a new place. I was knackered after 2 or 3 days in a car traveling around South Sulawesi (a beautiful place) and really needed a good pijit. In the place I picked, I was not optimistic. It was made with plywood partitions, grubby curtains and the pijit mattress smelled of rubbing oil and slaver. What we have to put up with in the east, HUH! So, my choice, Lena, came in and we said hello. My friend was in the next booth also getting a pijit so we could talk back and forward while under the hands of the “artist”. Lena started on me, on the feet (a good sign), and she didn't say much (another good sign). She was around 30 years old, short hair, stocky build, attractive but not really beautiful (another good sign). After about 10 minutes she started to chatter in Javanese/Indonesian to her pal next door. I understand Indonesian quite well and a bit of Javanese, but she didn't know that. This is what she said (more or less);
Silence......... pijit, pijit, pijit, pijit............
(to her mate in the next booth) "This one is bloody huge. I will never get him finished.
I am bloody knackered, and I’m only up to his knees!"
Silence.... pijit, pijit, pijit......
"Why do I aaalways get the fat bastards and you get the skinnee ones. I am sick of it!"
Silence............. pijit, pijit, pijit, pijit..........
Aerobics chants like when you need that extra bit of oomf in the session to get you to the end............... satuhuh.......... duahuh........ tigahuh........
Silence........... pijit, pijit, pijit.................collapse in a heap
"He’s a bloody monster aam gaana die!"
Starts again in silence............. pijit, pijit, pijit, pijit,................
"You’ll have to give ME a bloody pijit meeself after this big white whale. Aaaal neva get finished!"
I had my face down to the smelly sheets, laughing and laughing (quietly) and she gave me the BEST pijit I've had for years and years, She dug in good and hard (I hurt for days) and kept up the pressure to the very end, never gave up. She hardly said a word to me. After finishing, I gave her a good tip and she gave her first smile. I promised to come again. 

I hope she will answer the call when I pick her next time, HUH!

When you come to Makassar ……………….. before heading off to Tanah Toraja, Bira, Sengkang and further, and never mind the old forts, the islands and the beaches, the live-aboard diving around Makassar……………….. head straight for the traditional pijit place and start your life all over again with a hard invigorating pijit.


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