December 18, 2007

Massages in Asia

Asia is famous for having goods and services at a low price. You might think of food first- yes, I can go out for dinner and my bill will be less than 50 cents. But, I think the real bargain is in massages. I used to get discounted or free massages through Aveda, but you just can't beat an hour massage for the consistent price of 40 yuan (5 dollars).
As a group, the 3 of us roommates splurge on massages about once a month. It blows my mind to think that I used to spend 5 dollars on parking or on a cup of coffee.
Today Diana and I decided on our walk home from work that we 'deserved' a massage. So we stopped at the blind man massage parlor near our house. At one time in Chinese history, blind men were trained in the trade of massages. I've heard that nowadays, some sighted guys fake being blind. Why? Apparently, it goes with the territory- if you're a massage guy, you're also blind. A little cultural note for you.
Our massages began by being greeted by clearly sighted massage guys. I almost wanted them to fake it for us, maybe stub their toe or reach their hands out in front of them. But alas, they made eye-contact and pointed to which table we'd spend the next hour. Now, I'm used to tough massages, when they use their elbow in your lower back or plunge their thumb into the space between your spine and shoulder blade. But this guy, I'll call him Steve, was of a different caliber.
You know those times when you begin to laugh and you just can't stop? You try with every ounce of self mentally scold yourself...but nothing helps? And then the tears flow and you gain a second of composure.. only to burst again with laughter?
I think the only thing better is when a friend is in the exact same predicament. You spur each other on towards laughter and embarrassment.
For a full hour this happened- face down on a massage table, tears flowing, screaming in pain with a bony elbow in our backs.
And let me tell you that laughter doesn't need to be translated. Our massage guys started laughing too. The words "Ouch!" and "Ow!" don't need to be translated either, but it didn't seem to stop them.
As we walked away Diana exclaimed, "Now I need a massage to recover from my massage." So true.


Kathy said...

Ali, since M has not posted forever, I decided to check up on you and I just laughed as your massage experience sounds just like the one M & I had when I visited Nanchang.. I saw M at her shower a few weeks back and we reminisced and she caught me up on your work. Have a merry holiday. I still have fond memories of you!

Lucy said...

I was going to coffee in a cute upscale neighborhood the other night at this small place. While i waited i walked around the block-- finding a place that has massages!!! Sweet- I thought of you until I saw the price. 50 bucks for an hour. No thanks!