Mongolia is a long way to travel for a health massage.

Fortunately my friend Tracey is extremely intrepid and will journey to the ends of the earth in search of one.

“Ulaan Bataar is where I wish to receive my next massage,” she stated the day she departed. Ulaan Bataar or ‘UB’ to those who know it is the capital of Mongolia.

It didn’t sound like a place of massage to me, but my opinion on this should not be taken seriously because I don’t know UB or Mongolia at all. My only concept of that region is bleak steppes, yak fat, Julia Roberts and Genghis Khan.

Julia Roberts went to Mongolia for some or other reason and they made a documentary about her week with a Mongolian family. It didn’t make much of an impression on me. All I can remember is her smiling at the Mongolian family with her unattractively large smile.

What I can say for sure is that nowhere in the documentary did they show Julia having a Mongolian massage, so I had no reference point on this matter outside of Tracey.

Between you and me, the real reason she went to Ulaan Bataar is to help develop their media so that more people might get to know about Mongolia, other than through Julia. But let’s not dwell on the facts when there are massages to be gained.

It took days for her to get to Ulaan Bataar. If you look for it on a map and manage to find it, you’ll understand why. It is not like Brighton, just down the road.

She landed at the airport and headed into the city that is pretty much one big fridge, but has surprisingly large buildings and shops.

After a while she found her high-rise hotel, which was swish in a post-communist way. The lobby was a vast shrine to all things bright and marble, but the façade of ostentation ended there.

Having traveled all this way to procure a massage, she wasted no time in visiting the hotel’s semblance of a health spa where a board advertised two options: ‘Health Massage’ and ‘Medical Massage’.

Deliberating for some time as to which of these she should choose, she finally settled on the Health Massage. The spa manager explained in broken English that it would happen in her room.

At the appointed hour there was a knock on the door.

Tracey opened the door and two strapping Mongolian men stepped inside. She wondered whether it was really necessary to send two masseurs but further thoughts on this faded into the distant steppes when both masseurs dropped their drawers. Then stood in front of her with their hands cupping their members, gift-offering style.

No one means to stare under the circumstance, but who can help it.

“No, no!” Tracey cried, waving her hands.

“No, no?” they enquired, then in broken English explained she was not obliged to have both of them, she could choose whichever one of them she desired.

“No, no,” she repeated.

Both looked confused but remained standing there, cupping themselves.

“I have a sore shoulder,” she tried to explain, clutching at her sore shoulder and massaging it as she had hoped some Mongolian would.

“Ah …!” both men exclaimed.

Then they pulled up their drawers and smiled.

“You not want a Health Massage, you want a Medical Massage!” they advised.

“Oh yes,” she replied. “Silly to have got them confused.”

The two masseurs graciously disappeared, but later in the day when Tracey took the lift down to the lobby, she noticed the lift operator looked remarkably familiar.

“It was Mister Long and Thin,” she explained. “The staff all multi-task in that hotel.”

Which brings me to the Medical Massage, but time is short and the yak fat is getting cold, so we’ll have to save that for another time.