Friday, October 23, 2009

Hands that See and Feel...

Brickfields holds a special place in the hearts of the visually impaired. A huge community of the blind live and work there, having acquired skills as masseurs/ masseuses. Fortunately, the hanky panky tag of massage parlours is not associated with the blind though in the early days there was the initial misconception when blind massage centres first began.

The blind have definitely earned their respect from the public in the massage and reflexology services they provide. They are known for providing clean, honest services and ready to pamper us with their skills , so essential for an invigorating massage.

Along Jalan Thambipillay and Jalan Tun Sambanthan, you will see many blind massage centres . Brickfields has earned its name for these wonderful services by this special group of the community. Within walking distance of these centres, is the MAB (Malaysian Assoc for the Blind), the premier Association, since 1951, providing opportunities for the blind in the country - tertiary education, vocational training, work placements , Braille lab etc.

Just take a walk in Brickfields. You will definitely see tactile guiding blocks (embossed tiles) to guide the blind in the walking. These were laid by City Hall as early as year 2003. The tiles are at least 5 mm high and are made of concrete/ rubberised materials. Also, at the traffic lights, there's the sound indicators which alert the blind when to cross safely.

My visit to the Urut Tradisional PB opened my eyes to the skills of the blind masseuse,YL. This Centre is owned by another blind, Mr Lee Sheng Chow. He provides employment for 33 masseurs, male and female.

YL, the blind masseuse, a lovely,neat looking lady took charge of me in the calmest of manner.Not long into the massage, she asked if the pressure applied was alright. Just checking.I liked it nice and firm.

She massaged well with oil and with the successive strokes, I could feel it was already working on my meridian points. Only a skilled person knows how. The invigorating strokes soon relaxed me and I let the 'sifu' help make amends on my body! To finish off, YL massaged my forehead and then my head. What a lovely,light feeling sitting upright on the long sofa! I must admit, I even had a few cat winks, just like that, which isn't usual in the normal tedium of the day. Thanks, YL!

Would I have known I was being attended by a blind masseuse? Not at all! I've had full body massages done by sighted people - in Thailand, Bali and Kuala Lumpur. Knowing that she is blind, I can say that YL's hands CAN SEE and FEEL! YL has that superior sense of touch. She's just a wonderful masseuse in every sense of the word.

She didn't even have to ask me where my troubled spot was as she worked on the exact spot of the inner shoulders that felt crampy and knotty.

In our brief chat, I learned that YL has 10 years of experience as a masseuse. her husband like her,is blind and shares the same profession. They met at the Gurney Training Centre at MAB , Brickfields.

'For the blind, this job is important. We do our best to look after our rice bowl', she confided.This is a job she excels and it is her bread and butter. YL upgrades her skill by attending courses conducted by the blind masseurs from China and Japan.

Her sentiments are echoed by another masseuse I got to know, AL. Born in Jinjang, Kuala Lumpur, AL's partial to total blindness was a big blow. It hit her at age 12 when she was in school and soon she lost her friends. Due to her parents' ignorance of seeking prompt help, her condition deteriorated and it was only at age 23 that someone advised her to seek help at the MAB. Initially she started basketry work. Now she has found her niche and love for providing massages services.

'My clients are my contact with the world. I love exchanging information and I learn so much from them, 'she said. Well, I can't help thinking how blessed I am to have hands that see and fell to ease my tensions away !!

I briefly met the owner of Urut PB , Malaysia's first massage centre by the blind, Mr Lee Sheng Chow at talk. His is a truly inspiring story.Though blind at age 21, he went on to achieve much - for himself and the blind. His smiling disposition warms my heart as he shares Winston Churchill's words which have given him strength, ' Never, never, never, never, ever give up'. His finest hour was representing the nation at the Paralympic Games - Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000), placing fourth three times in the shot putt and fifth for the discus throw. To date, his national record of more than 12 m in the shot putt has been unbeaten since 1983. Talk to him, and you'll find he wears many other hats!!

His fellow blind family and friends can only be so proud of him . His staff too beam with pride as they talk about him as I enjoy the massages. Truly inspirational, all of them !

Massage by the Blind
Urut Tradisional PB
4A, Jalan Thambipillay
50490 Kuala Lumpur

MAB ( Malaysian Assoc for the Blind)
Kompleks MAB, Jalan Tebing, Off Jalan Sambanthan 4,
50470 Kuala Lumpur


  1. Keats you just are full of surprises. I love your newsy descriptions of the disabled and blind.The fact that you speak of handicaps as they are. Something that many can still make a living even if handicapped. And the piece you narrated on the handicape at the Bird zoo. I so admire you for showing the different ways of life in your country.

  2. Thankyou for this piece. Really fascinating. My father is blind, but he lost his sight a few years ago, and ordinary life here in Cambridge is not vividly designed for someone in his shoes. He is quite remarkable and my hero all the same, just as Mr Lee Sheng Chow is to his family and friends :)

  3. Great post as usual, my friend! Funny how Brickfields, with all its traffic jams and vice dens, appears to be the only commercial/residential area in the country that is designed to be friendly and manoeuvreable to the visually-impaired! I've always wanted to try out one of their masseurs but I'm a bit ticklish, so it would have to wait!

  4. How blessed you are to have this experience. Thanks for sharing. You have told it well.

  5. Good to know that Brickfields has the handicapped friendly walkways.

  6. Hi
    Lucy, thanks for your generous compliments:) Yah, with a little support from the individuals, the blind can carry on as normal a life as possible.
    I'm glad you enjoy visitng my blog to know more about Malaysia. We're Truly Asia!, to borrow a tag from our Tourism Ministry :))

    Shaista, welcome to my blog!Yes, our heroes are our brothers, sister, fathers, mothers, friends who try to be the best they can be, given the disabilities they have. Courage and a love of for life to go on!

    ~Covert_Operations'78~, thanks so much, dear friend! Brickfields is amazing and with the right infrastructure to improve, the people can enjoy it better. Ticklish? some people are - well, let me know and I'll be your companion to go for your first massage! You'll enjoy, just you wait!

    Rosey Pollen, good to see you! Thanks ever so much !

    Wan Hashim, yah! let's do it better and better:))

  7. Keats, you take me places. Thank you.

  8. Hi Ocean Girl, for sure! do send me an email and we can venture to places we can enjoy together !

  9. I voted for you!! You've opened my eyes to many places I was not aware of.


  10. hi Keats.. i went for leg massage in sungai wang before... a malay blind woman massaged for me.. she was not bad too.. she knows what problem i have.. :)

  11. I've never heard of that before, so thanks for the information. It's fascinating. It's great that this provision is there for the visually impared.

  12. Hi
    Veronica Lee, thanks ever so much for your support :))

    reanaclaire, glad you've had a similar experience.

    Anne Lyken-Garner, our Malaysian public is known to be generous and supportive of the charities and welfare bodies . it is good as organisations need whatever help we can give. the

  13. I think this is a good post. Awareness on how we can help the disabled and I am happy that they could have a business and be independant.

  14. Hi
    M.Kate, Thanks! You'r right about the importance of awareness - that is one big help for the blind .

  15. Keats, I finally went to "Urut Tradisional PB" today with my friend and it was GREAT! My neck, head and shoulders feel so light now. I am recommending their services to my friends, and everyone is curious and keen now! Thank you for the info!

  16. What is the price for 1hr full body massage..?? Tq :-)

  17. Thank you for visiting. An hour costs RM40.00. They are very good and it helps them to be in business when we support them.


Great to have you popping in!