Friday, July 20, 2007

#4: Cheap Massages

Cheap massages are offered aplenty in HK. You can't walk down the sidewalk without being bombarded by little ladies shouting "Muh-sah-ghee?" and trying their darndest to stuff your pockets full of leaflets advertising the services of the many massage parlors found sandwiched among the stores and restaurants on each block. (If you happen to be a man alone on the town, it's very likely the ladies will whisper the bonus "sexy muh-sah-ghee?" in your ear as you pass them by.)

And if you even show the slightest interest, they will hold on to you for dear life until you give in to their pleas and agree to get a massage. It's always worth it. There is a dodgy, little foot massage joint just across the street from our apartment that I've been to a few times. There are about 6-8 faux leather recliners in a U-shape, each with it's own doily and matching pillow. If you learn to block out the Chinese soap operas playing on the TVs across the room, it can be a really relaxing experience. For only $11, you can get an hour foot/leg massage. It's such a bargain.

Today I went to my favorite Thai massage center, and decided to treat myself to a 90 minute massage. I even opted for the essential oil massage, rather than the usual traditional Thai massage. I knew it would be my last cheap, HK massage for a long time, so I decided it was worth splurging on. (At $40 for 1 1/2 hours, it's still a great deal!) It was also monumental because this was my first nearly-nude massage, the prospect of which left me feeling a little nervous and apprehensive. The lady showed me to a massage booth and then told me to get undressed, left for a moment, but then came right back and handed me tightly wrapped tube of gauze and told me to put it on. "What?", I thought to myself. "You want me to wear that tampon-looking piece of fabric?" I was completely lost for words and getting more and more unsure about going through with the nearly-nude massage, but then she sort-of yanked at my skirt, saw that I was wearing underwear (of course!) and said, "Oh, nevermind, you are already wearing underwear." Um, yeah. Apparently that little piece of gauze was some sort of substitute for underwear, on the off chance that you had left yours at home or misplaced them on the way there.

My thoughts were momentarily flooded with the memory of when I was visiting a new gynecologist shortly after starting college. The nurse had left a robe for me on the chair and told me to get undressed and that the doctor would be in shortly. As any female can understand, those sterile rooms are never a pleasant experience and you want to whole process to be over as soon as earthly possible. So I quickly undressed, picked up the robe, and immediately panicked. Whatever it was that the nurse had left for me to wear, it was most definitely NOT a robe. I stood there momentarily, knowing full well that at any moment the male-gynecologist would knock on the door and discover me ferociously wrangling with this would-be robe. It turned out it was actually a pillowcase the nurse had mistaken for a robe. (Which I discovered only after putting my clothes back on, sneaking out of the examination room, and sheepishly asking the first nurse I could find for instructions on how to put on a pillowcase.) All in all a very unpleasant experience. I guess they say whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. (Whoever "they" is should learn to keep their mouth shut.)

Anyway, once I actually figured out how to properly undress, the rest of the massage was fine. Actually, it was great. It's a shame I've gotten so addicted to cheap massages, since they cost an arm and a leg in the US. (Hmm...maybe if I'm missing an arm and a leg the massage would be half-price. Sorry, the pun just slipped out before I could stop typing.)

If you meet me on the streets of San Diego someday and I seem particularly crabby, you can assume it's because I haven't had a good, cheap massage in awhile.


sarah z said...

You have more frequent readers than you think. I get my morning boost from reading your blog before my kiddos get up (along with my cup of coffee). Loved this one! I sure miss those foot massages!

LauraLunch said...

Holy crap. That was funny. I totally LOL'd. Last time I got an hour massage, I paid $75 (before tip) for it! It was pretty great, though. If only we could teach our husbands the art, but then again, they'd probably want payment of a different kind. :-)

John Hendrix said...

Do we mean "Massages?"

Nathan said...

Mmmm... Cheap massages. The Philippine government trains and employs blind people to be masseuses. Great idea, I think. Jobs for the Handicapped, and cheap massages for the masses. The best place to get them was at the airport. A 60 minute massage was a great way to prep for a 15 hour flight, and at $3 you couldn't go wrong.