Making Thai massage herbal balls in Chiang Mai

  • Asia & Oceania
  • Friday, 24 Aug 2018

All the herbs are mixed in a cotton cloth, which will then be twisted and tied to form a ball.

“Girl, you must take the corners and tie it like this.”

I should have taken my home economy lessons in school more seriously.

A simple session of learning how to make a Thai herbal massage ball turned into a nightmare for me, an artistically-challenged person.

It requires zero artistic talent to make one but when even your folded clothes look like a horribly meshed chutney, any craft that involves folding feels like rocket science.

At one point, my herbs were making a beautiful geometric design-like mess on the table.

Our pint-sized instructor scurried over for the second time, desperately attempting to save me from humiliation.

All the herbs are mixed in a cotton cloth, which will then be twisted and tied to form a ball.

Kanokwan, an expert on Thai massage, shares intricate details behind each herb and its benefits, before showing us how to make a massage ball.

“Be careful not to add more than one teaspoon of salt and Borneo Camphor into your herbal mix,” she says, warning us that adding too much of it causes rashes.

She carefully labels each herb with its side effects.

Armed with a cotton cloth, a spoon and a rope, we got down to business, loading variants of herbs into our cloth.

At least a dozen herbs are used to make the herbal poultice.

After putting our sweat and tears (mostly mine) into shaping the cloth into a tight ball and securing it with a rope, Kanokwan shows us to our rooms where her masseuses gave us a relaxing but bone-breaking massage using our very own herbal balls.

Before that, the herbal ball is steamed so that when used on the body, it stimulates blood flow, maximising its medicinal benefits.

The soothing background music and the right amount of heat pressing against my limbs juxtaposed the pitter-patter of Chiang Mai’s monsoon rain perfectly.

Just another fantastic day spent not staring at the computer or television.

ALSO READ: How to experience Chiang Mai like a pro

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