Monday, December 31, 2007

Local massage wonders

Tonight I had dinner with my ex, Louise, but before we had dinner, we decided to go to the Chinese foot massage place near my house. I'd never been there before so I agreed to go.

Let me preface by saying that only in the past few months have I discovered the incredibleness of the massage houses in Yantai. A few months ago, I went with my friends Nate and Barbara to the Huang Hai Korean massage place. There I had a 40 minute long (and very painful) back, neck, and head massage, followed by fire cups.

Fire cups are spherical glass cups that are placed on your back after heating the inside air with fire. The cooling air causes a suction against your skin, holding the cup to your back. At first the sensation is quite uncomfortable... very tight, pinching... but after a few minutes your back goes numb and it feels quite pleasant. I've been told that the idea is that the suction removed the 4 pathogens of Chinese medicine from your body, improving your health. Once the cups are removed the color of the remaining "hicky" can tell you a lot about the problems you have in that particular area. It also makes for a great photo op (note to any attractive women reading this post... I have since lost the love handles displayed in this photo):

Since going that first time, I've been going back each week for the same treatment, although now I know to stay away from a particular women that works there... judging by the amount of pain that women deals out, I think she must hate all men or something. In the US, an hour massage every week may sounds like an extravagance... but in Yantai, the full hour at Huang Hai only costs me 45 RMB (about $5).

So, bring me back to tonight's foot massage.

I'd heard about this place before. Barbara had told me that the staff there have the ability to diagnose problems with your body, simply by feeling your feet. Hard to believe, but after tonight I am a true believer.

As Louise and I were having our foot massages, each of us would indicate pain at various points. The staff would then attempt to explain what part of our bodies that indicated we had a problem in, and each time we were amazed at their accuracy.

One sore spot on Louise's foot indicated a sore throat... she said she had in-fact had a terrible cough and sore throat these past few days.

My massage guy asked me if I had been out drinking the night before. I confirmed this and he said he knew because the spot on my foot that is connected to my liver was tough.

Louise's person told her that she had bad lower back pain, which is true.

At one point I yelled out in pain and my guy told me that I have a severe pain in my knee... since I've been going to the gym and running, my left knee has been in excruciating pain. Just last week I bought very, very expensive shark cartilage tablets (for the glucosamine) to try and ease the pain.

I was stunned... and very impressed. I think I will go back to the foot massage place often. A whole hour of foot massage plus a 10 minute back massage only cost 30 RMB each (about $4).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!! Here's a distrubing story!

Well, its been a while since I've put up a real post. I've been up to a lot during this past month or so... I'm not quite sure where to begin.

The only place I can think to start with is a humorous story that my Dad wants me to tell everyone.

Recently my company has been working with a factory about 400 kilometers away from us on a trailer project. The Canadian customer came to visit us a few weeks ago and I took him out to see the factory that would be making his product. We drove the 4 hours into the Chinese sticks and got to Yuli, a small city of 35,000 people where the factory is located.

After a day of touring the factory, working on the project etc. we drove to the nearest hotel... in the next town over called Wulian. It was a brand new hotel... hadn't been open for two weeks yet when we showed up for dinner.

After our Chinese business dinner (hornet larvae and fried cicadas are quite tasty, for your information, as is turtle soup) the Chinese factory wanted to take us to the 4th floor bathhouse and sauna.

I could already see where this was going. Our Canadian customer excused himself due to jet lag and I followed the Chinese to the 4th floor. I was lead into a private deluxe room, complete with heart shaped bed and jacuzzi. Twelve gorgeous Chinese girls were then paraded into the room and lined up for me to choose. I calmly explained to the Chinese manager that I did not require a "special" massage and that a regular massage would be fine.

"Ahh, these girls are too ugly for you! We will bring new ones!"

Dejected, the twelve girls left the room and another twelve were brought in. Again I explained that I did not want a girl nor "special" massage.

"Ahh, ok. Still not beautiful enough for you!"

Another twelve girls...

Finally, after my 3rd round of objections, the Chinese staff got the idea that I really wasn't interested. They shooed the girls away and we all headed to the bath-house.

In the bath-house we all stripped down to nothing and did the typical bath-house stuff... sat in the dry sauna for a while, then the hot tub, and then I was lead by the staff to another room where I was told I would have my back cleaned. Hmm... sounds ok, I thought.

I'm lying naked face down on a massage table, and in walks a Chinese guy in a speedo. Using a scouring pad essentially, he proceeds to ex foliate my entire back, legs, and buttocks. Yes, I said buttocks. A very strange feeling, but felt very cleansing nonetheless.

And then he tell me to turn over...

Nervously, I comply. The man proceeds to scrub the entire front of my body as well. He then puts down the scrub pad thingy, and lathers up some lavender lotion. Says it will make my skin soft... and proceeds to rub (with bare hands mind you) lotion all over my body. Now, I want to clarify in the strongest possible terms... this was nothing risque or inappropriate in any way, shape, or form, but it doesn't change the fact that I had a Chinese man in a Speedo rubbing lotion ALL over my body, occasionally having to move certain parts of my anatomy aside manually to make way.

Feeling quite dirty and now having a better understanding of the world "violated" I get up from the table and take a shower. I look around for the other Chinese staff of the factory and finally find one in the hallway. He says that the Chinese managers are all having "massages" (I don't want to know) and that the top manager has booked another massage for me.

Again, knowing full well what's coming, I'm lead into a private room where there is a completely naked girl lying spread eagle on the bed waiting for me. I turn to the staff to complain, only to find the head of the Chinese company standing in the doorway laughing.

I tell him my objection and he says the funniest thing I have ever heard in my 2.5 years in China so far...

"Don't worry. This hotel has only been open for 1 or 2 weeks. At most she has only had a few customers. She is not dirty yet. Still clean!"

Though the girl doesn't speak English, my objections are easy enough to understand. The girl, insulted that I'd turn her down, starts yelling at me, demanding to know why I don't want to sleep with her. In a huff, she storms out of the room and leaves the room completely naked. I thank the Chinese company very much for their offer, but explain I'd rather have a regular massage.

As the Chinese managers still have at least another hour left of their "massages", I head with one of the other Chinese staff to another room where I'm treated to a scalp massage, back massage, arm massage, and foot massage for more than one hour.

Instead of having the type of ending the Chinese managers likely had, I had a Chinese girl cutting my toenails with a razor blade and scrubbing every last square inch of my toes and feet with a scouring pad.

It was heavenly.