They are not strippers, they are professional dancers… When referring to the strip club in the town over from where I grew up, we called it the “Ballet”. It was the code word for the strip club.
I have another code word. When I talk about going for a massage, I call it Fight Club.
The reference is to the movie. I like the movie, and it is not because of Brad Pitt. It is all about Ed Norton :). Those who have seen the movie you know the rules and for those who may not have, there are rules of Fight Club.
- Do not talk about fight club
- DO NOT talk about fight club
I am going to talk about my fight club just this once. I see it as a public service for anyone coming to China.
The biggest differences I found from massages at home
- You wear PJs for Chinese Massages
- Your feet are washed
- You don’t always have your own private room/space
- Full body, is full body
Massage places are found everywhere, from places that specialize in foot massages, ear massages, head massages, fire cupping (haven’t tried yet for I hear it makes you look like a lady bug for a few days), full spas, and I am sure there are some shady ones as well. I was told to avoid placed with red and purple signs. I think it was red and purple? Definitely purple and some other color. Most massage places open between 10am and noon and stay open into the early morning, like 2am. Sounds shady, I know! As long as it doesn’t have the purple signs and the massage folks are dressing in a uniform, one that doesn’t look like a sailor, maid, or some other vixen, you are good.
The places I have been are close to my apartment and found through the ex-pat magazines around town or word of mouth. They are gorgeous inside. Practicing Fung Shui, there is water, candles, scented oils, dark wood, beautiful fabrics, they are something. I have been spoiled with the atmosphere, the service, and the ridiculous price compared to back home.
However, there are some things about treatments here that are different than what I was familiar with, having to do with boundaries and privacy.
Here is a summary of my experiences:
You sit in giant Lazy Boy style chair or lay on a bed and they bring a bucket of warm water with flowers or TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) in it. They wash you feet and as they are soaking, will give you an arm/hand massage or a back/neck massage, then dry your feet. Next the fun begins, where for 1 hour or more (if you want) your feet and legs are rubbed and massaged. It is wonderful! 1hour costs around $15-20. I have also been to a place where I swear they were bruising the bottom of my feet, it hurt! You just have to try and find a place you like or learn to say not so hard in Chinese. I have yet to do that so I don’t go back to the painful place.
Never having a Chinese Massage before I had to try it. I have had 3 now it is not my favorite but I take people there for it is an experience. The 1st place I went to Dragonfly Spa you are given cotton pajamas to put on, which you keep on during the treatment. The massage is done through the Pjs. You start off face down and I noticed a pan of water and a floating flower when I looked down through the face hole. I thought how nice. Then I realized it is probably a pan to catch your drool. One difference from my previous experience, is you are not in your own, private room or space, there are other folks on beds next to you and they are not embarrassed to let out a moan in your presence. The Chinese massage, I will be honest hurts but no pain no gain right? I want the pain to stop but in a way it feels good. It involves pushing, kneading, pulling, tapping, and stretching. They will stretch your arms and legs into positions I had no idea my limbs could do and I really don’t think they should. I don’t enjoy that part. You think you are going to wake up bruised and sore but you don’t, you actually feel great. The other place I went to Green Massage. A difference at Green Massage is the Pjs they give you are silk, I like the silk Pjs. The Chinese Massage not my favorite but not bad once in a while.
FIGHT CLUB Moment: They massage your rear. Not your lower back or the area right above your rear, your tush through the PJs.
Went for an aromatherapy oil massage at Green Massage. There are no instructions or overview of the experience not just here, anywhere. You are given a locker key and in the locker there is a silk robe and something that looks like a shower cap. I left that alone. When you come out of the locker room, you are escorted to a private shower, where the water comes from the ceiling, it is fancy. In the shower room I saw the shower cap looking thing again so I looked closer and found out if was disposable underwear. Well I don’t need those, I will wear my own, I don’t care if a little oil gets on them. I was brought to a room with only 3 massage tables in it. Semi-private I guess. I went with a co-worker so it was just us in the room. This makes sense when I called for an appointment why they ask how many people for they put you in rooms together. They had a humidifier/steamer in the room, which kept it toasty warm.
FIGHT CLUB Moment: OK, I thought it was weird when I had my butt massaged through the Pjs, well…that was nothing. Body massage means body massage. No need to worry about getting oil on undies for they are pulled down. It was shock for about 5 secs (It take longer than Chinese massage shock). Maybe that is a reason for the disposable pants? Maybe they are ass-less and you don’t have to go through the pulling down? I have no idea. Now, when they are doing this, they use towels to cover and are professional about it, it is just different for the usual massage experience I am familiar with. Another different experience for me, is they get on the table. They don’t sit on your legs and you wouldn’t know they were there but the creaking of the table, I figured it out.
I have been back to Green and had an oil massage with a female…
FIGHT CLUB Moment: Well… let me say there are different boundaries when it is a female. I am going to just leave it at that. Just something to be prepared for.
I went to a different place, Jade Retreat and had an oil massage. I had a private room here, up a spiral staircase, lots of candles, it is nice. You change in your room and you don’t shower but they use hot towels to relax your muscles before they start and at the end to remove the oil. They also have heated massage beds. Toasty! At Jade, my stomach was massaged. Never had that done before either. Little strange, especially since I don’t like Todd to play with my belly and here is this stranger messing with it. I wonder if he could feel the whole pizza I had earlier? Let me just say don’t knock it until you try it, there is a reason why dogs and cats like their tummies rubbed.
After my massage experiences here, going back to the US and especially on a cruise ship paying those high prices, I don’t think I will be able to do it. I am spoiled! Come over and I will take you, you can experience Fight Club for yourself.