Forget the sleazy connotations about Bangkok massage parlours, Thai massage is serious stuff. Tracing its roots back to ancient India, it was apparently founded about 2,500 years ago by a close associate of Buddha, Doctor Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, as a means to heal sick monks. The technique is based on the theory that there are more than 70,000 energy lines, or sen, running through the human body, which frequently become blocked for various reasons, such as injury, illness, stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. However, with a bit of blockage-busting Thai massage focusing on 10 crucial sen, your energy should flow freely again and ideally, you should feel better. (It is also said to increase flexibility and posture, relieve fatigue, muscle pain and swollen limbs, and stimulate blood circulation and energy levels.) The Oriental Spa, which offers Thai massage in addition to everything from facials to pedicures, feels like part of a five-star hotel that wouldn't look out of place in Phuket. Wooden-panelled and stone-floored, it has enough details - a backdrop of cascading water at reception, calming ambient music and trickling fountains - to make you forget you're actually in a tower in Times Square. Split-level treatment rooms are large and self-contained with a good-sized massage area, a cavernous shower cubicle and ample dressing space - perfect for dealing with post-treatment dishevelment at leisure. After a cup of ginger and lemongrass tea, I changed into pyjamas and lay on my back on a mattress on the treatment-room floor. Anticipating an hour of much-needed R and R, I shut my eyes, but my optimistic aspirations of attaining a semi-comatose state were dispelled in minutes. In a nutshell, Thai massage is like a brisk cross between shiatsu, yoga and acupressure, and there is definitely no sleeping on the job. Your limbs are moved around constantly by the masseuse, kneaded alternatively with her palms, thumbs, elbows and feet, and stretched more than you'd think possible to release tension. One minute May, my Thai masseuse, would be sitting with one of her feet hooked under my upper thigh and the other pressed against my upper leg; the next she would be kneeling on my thighs, pressing her elbows into my shoulders. After working on my lower body she focused on my arms, turned me on to my left side and then my right, and finally knuckled down (literally) on my back. She looked petite, but my knotted muscles and tight hamstrings were no match for her firm touch. However, although various areas were tender when May applied pressure, once she had finished they felt considerably looser and comfortably heavy. I then had to get into a cross-legged seated position for some serious stretching. At one point, May sat behind me and by holding on to my arms, which were crossed behind my head, she rocked me gently until I was arching backwards over her, joints a-creaking. I had doubts that I would walk again but in fact I felt supple and loose of limb and pleasantly tired as though I had done a light aerobic workout. After all, if Thai massage was good enough for Buddha, it should certainly be good enough for me. Tip: Don't eat anything for an hour or so before the treatment. Value for money: $800 for an hour isn't cheap, but you pay for what you get. May is obviously an expert - she trained for years in her native Thailand - and with something that works as deeply as Thai massage you wouldn't want anything less. So what's the score?: 8/10. It wasn't the most relaxing experience, but the vigorous technique is what sets it apart from other types of massage - and it was great for easing tight muscles. The Oriental Spa was faultless in its customer care and is a deluxe bolthole worth knowing about. Reservations: Oriental Spa, suite 1601, Soundwill Plaza, 38 Russell Street, Causeway Bay (tel: 2151 7979). Five-star luxury and calming, ambient surroundings at the Oriental Spa, in the heart of Causeway Bay.