Hello Sir, Massage?

Travel Story in Cambodia by Mike

Hello Sir, Massage?

Two girls (I forget their names), Lauren, Vicki and I had just finished dinner and were looking into getting some drinks to chill and hangout.  Lauren and Vicki were already pretty good for drinking after the previous night’s debauchery and I went along with the girls anyway because  I suffer from serious FOMO (fear of missing out).  As the night progressed, I realized that I didn’t have the same recovery time as I used to so I decided to leave the girls so they can do their thing.

Wandering Pub street alone as a guy can be interesting: you see the streets teeming with party people; carts pushing fried insects and things; ladies outside trying to reel you in bars – It was awesome! Pub Street definitely comes alive at night – but not for this guy. I just wanted to have a nice cold papaya milkshake, be on my bed watching Netflix. It’s not too much to ask for, is it? After all, finding some time to yourself with a few comforts is healthy for your sanity. So, I set off to get myself a milkshake at a place I knew made a good one.

I’ve had it pretty easy in the last couple days as I walked down the street. Massage hawkers never really bothered me with Vicki around. It only hit me now that I was walking on my own. “Massage sir?” As they shove a useless menu card in your face, you’ll never have time to even glance at it. “No, thanks.” I replied and walked away. Mission accomplished. Only a few meters later, there was another shop which had maybe 7 girls sitting on plastic red chairs reminiscent of an eatery. I barely even made eye contact, just moved my eyes ever-so-slightly to see what was going on and they all stood up in unison, cards on hand, ready to approach me until one girl popped up out of nowhere and asked, “Sir, would you like a massage tonight?” with a sly grin on her face. “No, thanks.” I politely said. This time it was different. As I started to walk away, she grabbed my arm and held it tightly.

Girl: “I’m never had customers yet, you’ll be first one..”
Me: “No, thanks! I gotta go over there..”
Girl: “I’ll give you good price, make you feel good. There’s A/C inside”
Me: “No, no, I’m good, thanks”

My efforts to pull away were in vain. She held on tightly, slowly dragging me towards the door.

Girl: “Where are you from?” (we get this question a lot)
Me: “From Canada, but I’m born in the Philippines”
Girl: “So you come with me upstairs, okay? You try me 20mins”
Me: “No thanks, I don’t do that. I don’t need a massage”

At this point, I’ve seen people walk past me looking at what was going on here. It was a tug of war and my arm was the rope. I swear some male foreigners that walked past had laughed a bit at my situation. I’m thinking they experienced the same thing!

Girl: “Okay, if you go that way (points towards the direction of the milkshake stand) you find only ladyboys. I’m 100% lady”
Me: “I don’t want either. Look, I gotta go.”
Girl: “On your way back you come here, ok? I wait for you.”
Me: “Sure, whatever”


I thought she was going to let go but still didn’t. Then I saw one of her colleagues (ladyboy) walking towards us, and said “Come on, let’s go..” S/he pushed both of us towards the door – “SHIT!” I panicked. There was no way out of this one. I knew as soon as I went through the doors, there was no way I was getting out with money in my wallet – with or without any services rendered. I didn’t know what to do at this point. 3 meters from the door, the original girl had lost her grip. FREEDOM. So I ran.


I ran?


Half confused as to why I was running away, I looked back and saw the attendant running after me. “WTF!? Who does this!??” I thought. Luckily, she gave up really quickly. During the chase, my flip-flop had come off but before I was able to slip it back on, I looked up and realized that another attendant from a different massage parlour thought it was amusing to continue to chase after me. “Again!? I just want my milkshake!” I Forrest Gump’d it and ran. I ran past tuk-tuks, past t-shirt stalls and laughing tourists until the coast was clear.

Finally, I ordered my milkshake and gladly paid only to realize that unless I wanted to walk a long way around through dark, empty streets I had to go through that same street all over again.








Michael Gozum

I'm a food photographer that wants to eat my way around the world.