Chalkmarks Chalkmarks My cracking time with the Magic Man

Occupation: Full time Magic Man of Lombok

Appearance: Nothing like a magic man

Job description: To crack every bone in your body

Rating? 10/10 (I’m too British to complain)

GODDAMN it, this isn’t going well. I’m lying face down on my hotel bed while a ‘magic man’ squeezes my arm, twists the skin and cracks my bones. It hurts so bad. What have I done? I’m too British to complain.

And things are only getting worse: another snap, crackle and pop and I think he’s just removed my leg.

I’m screaming like a kicked puppy. No one comes to my rescue even though I can hear people in the pool. I’d left the door open to be safe but no one pops their head round to see if I’m ok. I’m also about as far away as you can get in the world. I’m in Lombok, Indonesia.

It’s not his fault though. This butchering is what I’d booked. I just didn’t know it.

I’ll flash backwards to explain how I got here. I was at breakfast on the neighbouring island Gili Air overhearing people talking about their plans to visit Lombok. Someone piped up to say there was a magic man and how people had crossed the globe with bad backs that conventional doctors hadn’t fixed and this guy had healed them.

Well, whether this was true I didn’t know, but it was his name, the Magic Man – they made him sound like some kind of mythical creature, a bit like Bigfoot. Was he real? Could he cure people?  I’m only half an hour away – I’m gonna do it. I don’t even have a bad back but I’m going to find him so I booked the taxi boat for the next day.

Turns out this wild man isn’t so difficult to track down. While checking in, I lean in and whisper to the receptionist: “This is a long shot, but have you heard of the Magic Man?”

“Oh, yes,” she says.

She turns to her manager, asks for his number and within five minutes he’s on the phone. Before I can say abracadabra alakazam an appointment is made, for today.

He comes to you apparently. The price is 350 rupiah (£20) for an hour. That’s very reasonable, so I head to my room to unpack.

This was his trick and I knew I’d regret it!

It’s 5pm when Mr Magic arrives. He’s friendly, smartly dressed and smiling when he poses for a photo with me. He shakes my hand very firmly then rolls his thumb over my ligaments; he scrunches my knuckles together and squeezes until the bones crack.

I’ve never felt pain like it before. This was his trick and I knew I’d regret it. I ask him why he did that.

He says my bones have fused over time because of repeated activity and shows me a few tiny lumps, which I’ve never noticed before.

Then he says breezily: “All channels are clear.”

Ten minutes in, I think I’m going to pass out. He has his hands clamped around my arm. He manipulates it, presses down then crushes it. 

I try to distract him with conversation. I say this has all been a misunderstanding, that I was after a relaxing massage.

He speaks Bahasa but has very good English yet I don’t quite catch everything. He explains this isn’t so much about bone cracking but improving alignments and allowing blood flow. If parts of the body are blocked the energy can’t flow, he says.

He’s very likeable and happily chats away while breaking me up like dry spaghetti.

He says he’d seen people who were 90 per cent blocked but that I have only a 25 per cent problem – that’s 25 per cent bad blood flow.

He tells me that he’s made grown men cry and how an old Russian man had paid 1mIDR (£164) to see him.

I ask him where he trained? The roots of his powers come from his ancestors with the practice handed down from his father, who learned it from his father and he’s passing it on to his son. I’d never met a real like mystic before. I am charmed even though he is shattering every bone in my body.

Just as I’m starting to like him, he steps up on the bed and stands on me – he presses down on my hip with his bare feet. I think my guts come up. While waiting for my joint to pop, he gets his phone out to show me a photo of his son. He’s only two and is already giving the family foot massages. I wish I’d asked for the Magic Baby.

Oh my god, no, another satisfying crunch and I wonder if my travel insurance covers this? 

I cling to the bed for dear life as there’s one last twist to my neck. He prepares me saying I have bone fusion there too – probably too much thinking. He says the way to avoid this in the future is “when at work you think and after work stop thinking.”

Difficult now though when I’m worried I will never walk again and if he’s done me any serious damage. 

After this hour-long operation he gives me his business card. It says the Original Lombok Massage. *DM me if you want his number.

Thankfully he says I don’t need to see him again – I am cleared for life – but he advises that for the next two days, I take it easy. “Muscles still clearing. No yoga,” he says. 

That’s no problem, I’m going for a long lie down.

That’ll be the best magic trick ever.

Suggested contents and articles.
Suggested Contents
Hell or high water: Atlantic crossing was my biggest test
NATALIE sailed on board the world's eighth largest passenger liner, the Anthem of the Seas sailing from England to America.
How I shimmed off a burlesque class in Prague
I CAN shimmy now. Yes it’s true. I’d never been able to do that before. This is what Prague has taught me.
Why my home in Dalmatia had a Split personality
THIS is where I stayed in a socialist tower covered in graffiti in Croatia better known as the gateway to the islands.