Sazanka Redux

In last month’s column, we looked at one of the few places catering to Japanese customers in Bangkok that is also available to Westerners: Sazanka Massage at Washington Square (off Sukhumvit Soi 22). That may not seem like anything out of the ordinary, but it is … most of the places catering to Japanese men will not admit a Western man.

Partly that’s because places catering to Japanese men usually gouge on price and most Westerners are not used to seeing quite that much gouging. But gouging is standard practice in Japan in most Japanese nightspots catering to men’s baser instincts and therefore Japanese men accept it without complaint.

And partly, it’s that Japanese men are reputed not to be interested in women who also do Westerners. Why is that? Theories abound (some involving the alleged larger sizes of Western dicks), but we’ll leave that debate for the sociologists.

We’re just interested in helping all our readers have a good time while being bad. Several readers contacted me on last month’s column and expressed an interest in trying Sazanka for a change of pace on their next trip to the Land of Smiles. So in the interest of providing excellent service to our readership, a fellow “researcher” and I made a return visit to Sazanka last weekend for an updated test drive.

As you may recall, your old Uncle Hannibal had walked out of Sazanka on his initial visit minus the hair from his legs. It seems that their salt massage strip-mined all of the hair below the knees.

So, not surprisingly, I opted for one of the non-salt options this time. There’s a 500 baht quickie massage (only 30 minutes), but there are also a couple of longer massages that don’t involve salt. The shorter one costs 880 baht and lasts for 70 minutes and the longer one costs 980 baht and lasts for 90 minutes. Being a glutton for pleasure, I took the 90 minutes.

As a side comment, one rarely has to wait in line for anything here in Thailand … labor is cheap and prices for Westerners are high by local standards, so it’s more profitable for business owners to make sure that they have ample staffing on hand than it would be to risk having customers go elsewhere due to not wanting to wait in line.

So on the very rare occasions when there’s a line waiting at a Bangkok establishment catering to free-spending Western males, that’s usually an excellent indication that the place combines a superior “work ethic” with prices that are at the low end of the price scale.

I had only seen that before in one establishment here: the legendary Eden Club. That is, until my most recent visit to Sazanka. It was on a Sunday afternoon (around 4:00 p.m.) and there was a forty-minute wait. The manager provided a free drink while we waited for a couple of girls to free up, but the place was doing boffo box office (with both Western and Asian customers).

So I’m clearly not the only punter who considers Sazanka to be a good value by Bangkok standards (if one has an afternoon to kill and wants to “take the edge off”).

The typical Thai (traditional) massage place in Bangkok will charge you between 300 baht and 400 baht per hour for an oil massage and if the girl you take is amenable to providing “manual release” along the way, she’ll expect a 500 baht tip. So, all-up, you’d be in the 800 baht to 900 baht neighborhood on the one-hour oil massage alternative (that is, if your masseuse is one who does do extras).

Sazanka’s price (880 baht for 70 minutes or 980 baht for 90 minutes) would be at the low end of that range if you adjust the numbers a bit for the longer pleasure sessions at Sazanka.

But what do you get for that price from Sazanka? I’m glad you asked that question. Here’s the tale of the tape:

When you arrive, you have a seat on one of their couches and they bring you a beverage of your choice and a photo album that will have a picture of each of their girls along with their age. It will also show their names, but these are each a “nom de guerre” … they’ve been assigned common Japanese girl’s names (although they in fact are Thai girls).

They’ll have one color of Post-It Note next to each picture for the girls that are not on duty that day and a different color Post-It Note next to each picture for girls who are working that day but who are “currently occupied”. The ones with no Post-It Note are working that day and are also available for immediate service.

The managers will be happy to tell you more about any of the girls who catch your eye … how long they’ve been working there, where they come from, a little about their personalities and so on. And they do run a pretty tight ship there, so the managers will also have a log that has the starting and ending times for each of the girls currently servicing customers. So if a particular girl gives you premium wood but is now with another customer, the manager can tell you how many minutes that would be until she frees up again (so that you can decide whether you want to wait that amount of time, or pick out another of the girls instead).

Okay. You’ve picked out your new best-friend-du-jour and you’re now ready to get woman-handled. The first stop will be at the small lockers where you can deposit your valuables. You’ll get the key on an elastic wrist-band and over to the staircase you go (where your lady awaits you). She’ll escort you upstairs to a massage room and help you get undressed.

Then she’ll wrap a towel around you and take you to a private shower room, where she’ll wash you as thoroughly as your Mom might have done when you were a toddler (if your Mom had been a pervert). They do an extra good job on all of those hard to reach places … enough so that it will take some extra dexterity in getting the towel fully wrapped around your mid-section (and keeping it on) for the walk back to your massage room.

Once back in the room, you hop face down on the massage table (they have a cutout for your face so that you can breath … and you can even watch your ladies toes as she works on your handsome physique if you get really bored).

Next, she’ll layer several hot bath towels on you so that you’ll now be fully wrapped in hot towels. It’s quite relaxing. And while you are all wrapped up in hot towels, she’ll give you a deep tissue Thai massage from your toes to your neck (and all points between).

After the towels come off, she’ll bring on the oil and proceed to give you a more gentle Thai massage with plenty of oil for lubrication. And once your backside is done, you turn over and she’ll start on the front acreage.

She’ll start at your feet and work her way up, being very careful NOT to avoid your personal sundial. Next thing you know, you’re shooting putty at the moon.

After a bit of tidying up and more oil massage for your upper body, it’s off to the shower again where she’ll give you another complete shower (and the operative term here is “complete”). Then she will dry you off and escort you back to the massage room, where she will help you get dressed again.

Then she’ll escort you back down the staircase and bid you a very fond adieu at the bottom of the stairs. You’re still a few meters away from the lockers and she’ll disappear up the steps before you can get back to your wallet (in case you were interested in tipping her a bit extra).

So it’s clear that tips are not expected here (just as in Japan, where tipping is not the custom and in fact would almost be an insult).

You pay at the front desk on your way out and you’ll be smiling as you step outside to greet the afternoon. It’s a very pleasant experience all the way from start to finish. No “attitudes”, no hustles, no stopping to haggle just when it starts getting good … just the traditional work ethic (“service with a smile”) that is becoming less common in the modern world.

So if you’re ever in Bangkok contemplating getting an oil massage, why not go one better? Head for Sazanka and let them pamper you the way God intended.

It’s good fun!

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