252 Massage is a fishbowl style massage parlor in the heart of Phnom Penh. As the tattered white sign in the street indicates the place was formerly known as Yang Chou. It has been through at least one reincarnation over the years which is normally for a massage shop like this operating in Cambodia.
Although http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/?action=click&contentCollection®ion=TopBar&WT.nav=searchWidget&module=SearchSubmit&pgtype=Homepage#/free chat 252 Massage is situated right out in the open on a street that houses the 252 Hotel and other businesses it is possible that visitors would find it difficult to locate. The shop shares a building with the coincidentally named Boom Disco Club which is far more visible.
252 massage in Phnom Penh252 massage in Phnom Penh
Customers to 252 enter through a door to the right of the building that is covered by a red awning. They pass a small indoor pond before going up a flight of stairs. Next they pass through another door before making a left and walking down a worn out hallway. Finally they go through another door on the left marked “Massage” which brings them to the lobby.
Customers see a fishbowl setup but it first appears empty due to a strategically placed mirror that reflects images of empty red seats. Walking further into the shop reveals the other side of the mirror where several women sit and wait for customers.
252 appears to be run by people of Chinese ethnicity. A man seated behind the counter takes money from customers and runs a log of which rooms are open and occupied on a blackboard. An older female manager greats customers and helps them select service providers.
The women who work at 252 Massage wear different colored pins according to their ethnicity. Khmer women wear blue pins and Vietnamese women wear red pins. At any given time there are between one and two dozen women on staff. They range in age with most appearing to be in their twenties. Nearly all are attractive and fit. Most are friendly and warm though surely more than a few would be shy about working with foreigners especially since few if any can speak English.
Customers who select a woman for a massage pay a ten dollar fee to the house. They are then led by the woman they select to one of many rooms that are rather worse for wear. Although the rooms aren’t necessarily any worse than the quarters in some of the oily massage parlors in Bangkok they do have issues. Beds and the stands that hold them are broken. The linens are clearly not regularly changed. Attached shower rooms have only hoses that provide cold water. Toilets are stained black and unable to flush. Building codes probably don’t apply either. Still the women who work at 252 go about their business in a friendly way.
There’s no way to determine which kinds and styles of services that every lady working at 252 provides. Suffice to say that the place has long been known as a short time full service massage parlor with the main even being covered and lesser events being limited when they even exist at all.
Although women working at 252 and similar places provide adult service on a regular basis they can still be coy in places as outwardly conservative as Cambodia.
The women usually provide perfunctory light back rubs for a few minutes before hinting around about other services. If a customer agrees they begin to negotiate unless the guy being serviced is a regular. The women can start out asking for tips as high as one hundred dollars though regularly paid rates are much lower with anything between twenty and fifty dollars being average.
With the exception of some mad zealots no one can fault the women who work at a place like 252 for trying to make a buck. As the regular stream of customers going in and out of the place shows 252 Massage provides a service that is desirable. It’s an average full service fishbowl massage shop for the area. Two-and-a-half stars.