Shaking off Demons in Hang Dong – with Dr.Dr: the spiritual masseuse
It’s been said more than once, and one would have to agree, that here in little old leisurely Lanna a person might succumb to wasting significant parts of his life talking about variations of curry with strangers or staring into bowls of noodle soup listening to bad actresses bawl on the TV. And so, after another evening of plasma screen disenchantment and soap operatic melancholy, it was decided that a trip down the Irrigation Canal Road to the rough outback town of Hang Dong was in order. Why? Because I’d been told about a doctor – of sorts – who could cure mental anguish with his feet.
Temporal despair aside, it is said this healer’s treatment can also cure muscular pains, lumbago, stiffness, and psychosomatic bad knees. All inclusive: 300 baht. Boonchou Chantraboot, of the Hang Dong Massage School, not only teaches traditional Thai massage – his staff are impeccable masseuses – but deals part time with the dark side of incorporeal life. He’s known to villagers as Por Mor, Dr. Dad, but his official title is Mor Paet or Dr. Dr – literally translated. As a licensed therapist with a view to expunge people of their psychic and physical pains, the famous doctor from Hang Dong is one of a kind. His modus operandi has been passed down through generations, his methods written on ancient (he claims 700 years old) scrolls . . . that he kindly got out of the cupboard to show us.
Imagine bowls of magical horns, tiger teeth, white buffalo bones and knives shaped from pieces of wood that were once hit by lightening. These are the instruments needed for the ancient process of chet hak, a formidable operation whereby the doctor scrapes the body with these divine tools that have been dipped in nam plai, herbal water. Whilst running animal teeth down your back he chants in Sanskrit, a prayer that for all intents and purposes is a kind of not so exigent exorcism.
You then move on to the next process, the real rabbit in the hat, yum kham, a soul-healing, harmless, hex-less, body massage with lots of fire, chanting, hot nam plai and hooch rubbed all over your body with the doctor’s scorching feet. Those who are faint of heart or fearful of old men’s toes may not relish this process. With heels hot as Satan’s hooves Dr. Dr wipes his soles through the liquid fire and gives your muscles a good going over. It’s pleasantly discomforting and furiously zany, and, he claims, effective: hundreds of folk whose prosaic clinics have been nothing but an expensive let down have been cured by this man who wields a fiery cane and who looks like a bespectacled human carnation of E.T.
Yam kham is actually a pretty well known treatment – to those with a penchant for the supernatural anyway. “Whisky brings the heat to the skin,” said Dr. Dr, who added, “if I don’t chant the spell, my feet would burn like any normal person’s would.” For him the pain is ephemeral, though he maintained that pedestrian feet would have to convalesce at least five days.
For serious injuries it may take up to ten visits to the doctor, nevertheless, if Percodan, Vicodan, Tramadol and Chang have done little in making the pain pass; if Valium and Zoloft failed with your dark moods, then why not experience the slick feet of a happy go lucky, friendly spiritual doctor to get rid of your mental and physical aches and pains?
Chiang Mai Massage School (for classes, also highly recommended for Thai massage) Hang Dong (behind the main Hang Dong market, just take the soi after the market on the main road and it’s opposite the car park.
Tel: 053 441 273
Yam Kham and Chet Hak available on request