Now I’m not what one would call a massage fanatic. Anders is – I am not. I would rather have a manicure/pedicure any day. I never even had a massage until I was 50. Kiersten and Steven treated me to one for my 50th birthday and it was my first. I loooooved it! I had my 2nd in the Guangzhou hotel in April when Anders and I were house hunting. That was heaven as well. What I remember most is that the girl who gave me my massage told me, “You white, so white.”  I’m not sure if she was referring to just my skin or the hair/skin combo. Still it wasn’t something that I would do twice a month. Anders loves massages and has had several while in China, both on business trips and while he was here for 3 1/2 weeks by himself. He found a place not far from work that he really likes so I caved on Saturday (he had a very tough week) and we had one together.

It wasn’t what you think of when you think of Chinese massage (I think torturous) but it wasn’t the relaxing, fall asleep kind either. We walked in and were served tea while we waited. Then we were led to the back through a bead curtain, walked along teak floor tiles, smelled incense and body oils, heard the soft sound of water while spa music played.  It was all very calming and peaceful  We were ushered into a room where we undressed, put on  paper panties ( perhaps Anders put on paper underwear not panties), and laid down. Our face cutout was actually very nice as there was a candle and a lotus flower floating in a bowl of water.  The flower was real. I had to touch it because I knew that I would wonder the whole time I was on my stomach if it was real or fake. The girls spoke very little English but that’s not necessary for a massage now is it. It started off very innocuously but by the end there were parts that were uncomfortable/painful. I believe the real reason for the lotus flower is to give you something to look at while you’re in pain and try to conjure up a more peaceful thought.

When we switched from our stomachs to our backs is when it started to hurt. She lulled me into believing that the stomach massage was going to be like a mother calming her colicky baby but let me tell you it was neither calming nor maternal. It was definitely meant to be therapeutic and judging by the gas, liquid, and solids that I could feel moving through my intestinal system she was well-trained. I could feel stuff moving as she massaged me. Not even my gynecologist has the intimate knowledge of my organs that masseuse girl does and she was touching me from the outside! She would rub a line from my solar-plexus to the bottom of my belly button with her thumbs but  stop intermittently along the way and apply intense pressure in one spot until I didn’t think I could take it anymore and was about to tell her to STOP! At that instant she would move on and massage my lower stomach,  as if she was physically moving matter along, rub all around my stomach and start again. It got so that I was dreading the feel of her fingers making their descent to my belly button. I think that if I went for a massage like this every week I would have 6-pack abs in no time because I tensed (I’m sure not good) to counteract the pressure I knew was coming. Anders had prepared me for this bit but it’s like childbirth, you don’t really know what it’s like until you experience it yourself.  

Even the arm massage was disconcerting.  She took her index finger on the inside of my wrist and tried to touch the back of it.  When it became almost unbearable she would stop and rub. Again, I could feel things migrating in my stomach.

The other hurtful part came at the end. She ended with a scalp massage and I thought, ok this’ll be a relaxing  way to end a slightly painful massage. I settled my mind and body because one always end on a good note right? Right?!?! Oh no, it was not to be. She took her thumbs and I’m fairly certain that just as she was touching my kidneys, fallopian tubes, and appendix she was trying to touch my brain! I think I have permanent divots in my forehead. The bizarre thing is that when she did that I could feel more gas, liquids, and solids moving in my stomach! I’m not sure where that connection is but that’s what it felt like.

I have concluded that the hurtful parts were all meant to facilitate  a colon cleansing, no matter what part of the body the pressure was applied to, and the normal massaging was done to make up for the punishment.

You too can have a 90 minute massage and colon cleansing for the price of $50. I know it’s cheap but still…

6PM – 87 degrees, real cool-down here


About vikarenously

I am an ex-pat living in Guangzhou, China. I am married to the man of my dreams who has indulged my love of travel by working hard enough to snag two international assignments. Oh yes, I also have two amazing children who accompanied us on our first one to Switzerland and are now mature and responsible adults which makes it so easy for us to experience this adventure as empty-nesters. Experience it vicariously with Karen.

7 responses »

  1. Gutsy, I still have not found anyone I am willing to go whole body massage with. I have had some strange ones though. I passed a kidney stone in January and my medical doctor, Chinese from the US, told me there is a kidney stone massage. Helps you pass the stone.

    The Chinese prize the lightest skin, most of their skin care products contains whiteners and brighteners.


    • Oh I know she meant it as a compliment but the way she said it. She looked at me like I was a goddess and NO ONE has ever looked at me like that before.

      I can only imagine how much the kidney stone massage must be although it can’t possibly be more painful than the stone.

      Have a great evening Nola.

  2. Oh my! I can somewhat understand what you went thru. I had a foot massage once in china, and I was in so much pain during that half hour that I was sweating profusely. I couldn’t wait for it to be over! Do you think these massages get easier after your colon gets cleansed? I have heard that the head is tied to the stomach. Stay away fro the foot massages! :). Love your stories, thanks for sharing!

  3. Your massage story was too much! Where did you guys get the guts to just walk into a place in a foreign country and be at their mercy?! I have a few comments. 1. Are you sure you didn’t get a “medical massage”? Brittany has to get them and she says she is very sore from them, but then after a day or two she feels better. 2. You can’t read the cute little Chinese signs, so let’s be honest, you actually have no idea where you were. 3. Did it not occur to you that having to say “stop” because of pain during something that you voluntarily signed up and were paying for is a tad weird? 4.I thought everything cost more for you guys, so was it not worrisome that a 90 minute service was so inexpensive? (90 minutes in a US spa would be well over $100.00). 5. Assuming Anders explained in detail what you were getting (he had already been there), you still thought it was a good idea! 6.Did you not think it was strange to be told you were white? Who does that? Did you mention to her that you like to avoid sun exposure for the fear of malignant melanoma? OR maybe she was just trying to sell you a spray tan as well. (you know how when you go for just one service at a salon, they insist you need at least another.) 7.Did anyone comment on Anders race? 8. Did you ask for the flower as a souvenir?

    Keep your blogs coming! Getting up and reading them are, by far, my most entertaining event of the day. I would like to know what kind of things you need to substitute for your usual American items. And you did an excellent job answering my questions. Thank you. Am I suppose to be commenting back here on this space or would you rather I do it some where else.?

    • It was billed as a “Thai Relaxing Massage”. It might be for Thais but certainly not for this American. I’m convinced it was a medicinal massage.

      The Chinese and I think most Asians like pale skin. They use a lot of skin bleachers and whiteners. Anders was given a bunch of products that were whiteners and we passed them onto other people. As we all know, “I’m white, so white.” and don’t need anything else to help that. I still think she was considering my hair color as well. Just ask my kids.

      I got news for you girlfriend, reading your comments is the highlight of my day. Anders read yours this morning and chuckled the whole way through.

      • Yeah just to pitch in here–I also really enjoy your comments Sue haha. 🙂 Massage sounds painful–I think I’ll stay away from that when we visit. 😉 I like my massages to be relaxing, personally, not painful. I very much enjoyed your retelling of the whole experience though! Made me laugh out loud!! 🙂

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