My first overseas trip to Asia was full of adventure! From a Taxi Cab Hi-Jacking, to a plane ride where the Captain announced he would “TRY” to land safely, I was constantly in awe, and amazement of my surroundings.
Now, I will declare that I am an open book. I tend to share way to much, and don’t seem to be bothered by it. My husband, on the other hand is a closed book, with a giant lock that prevents any information from spilling out. He wishes I was the same. This is one of those times he would like me to keep my story to myself:)
With that said here goes…. I had heard massages in China were amazing, and super cheap, and I was so excited!!! (Go back and re-read this sentence again, insert a high voice, and emphasize “amazing” so you will know how I said it in my mind as I wrote it!!)
At this point in my life, I had been treated to a few massages. Sadly though, having small kids, these massages were few and far between.
On the plane ride to Beijing, I declared we were getting a massage every day!!! I was thrilled!! A massage everyday… I was pretty sure I had died on the plane, and was headed to heaven!
Here is where the story takes a turn. I was completely new to traveling and spontaneous by nature, so no preparation was put into where we would get these massages everyday.
We were in nice hotels, but as we walked around the streets of Beijing, there were numerous massage salons offering inexpensive massages. We decided in the spirit of adventure, Lets do this!!
Here comes Problem #1. I did not bring anything with me that gave us the translation of English words, into Chinese. I did not know how to say ‘hot stone massage’, or ‘foot reflexology’, so we walked into our first salon, did a lot of hand waving, and tried to explain what we were there for.
I think we should have read the writing on the wall, and left when we first saw the purple beach towels on the beds!
Again… I was in China, and I was there for adventure, so I thought, “Bring it On”. This first massage didn’t actually turn out to be so bad. It was in a dark basement, and they did use plastic buckets to give pedicures, but all in all, it was ok.
The massage lasted about 2 and 1/2 hours because they would come in, say something we didn’t understand, we would nod, and they would add time on the timer. Can you believe we actually finally shut it down ourselves??? Never before was I happy a massage was over.
No rashes or weird ailments seemed to follow in the next few hours, so I assumed all was well!
Now this is where the tale turns sour. Problem #2… Jared is reluctant at this point, but I am still embracing the adventure for everything it is giving me. We set out for our 2nd day massage. This massage was in a nice salon, and mine turned out to be great! Zero complaints, I LOVED IT!
My husband’s on the other hand was not, and he did not! When this massage was completed, I stood up relaxed, and was feeling fabulous. I had that sleepy, every muscle feels wonderful, kind of sensation you get after a great massage. I was sure this was worth flying thousands of miles for…
But when I saw Jared, he was pale, and I quickly became curious as to what had transpired for him. He then turned around, and I saw his back! It had deep bruises, and I knew his massage did not go as well as mine.
The next few minutes he told his tale. He explained that as the massage began, he realized that his masseuse was serious with her pressure. After asking her to ease up ineffectively, He decided to embrace it, and counted her rubbing his back more than 500 times in one spot! OUCH!!!! (note… I would lose track counting, but Jared, he’s very accurate with his ability to focus on numbers:)
At this point, Jared is done getting massages, but I was still not ready to throw in the purple towel! Even though these massages were not like any I had in the past, I was committed to a massage everyday, and was not ready to dismiss this luxury.
The truth was I should have been!! We traveled to Hong Kong from Beijing, and began wandering the streets in search of culture, and a glimpse into the lives of the people we were visiting. Turns out, on the streets of a new city, are new massage salons. I encouraged Jared to go in. Great reluctance was met with “I am only getting a pedicure!”
Fine by me, Jared could get a pedicure, and I would treat myself to another fabulous massage! Running into the same issues with translation, and not being able to differentiate one location from another, we picked one and went in. The normal hand waving began, and Jared settled into a pedicure chair, and I was taken back to a room.
A sweet, Chinese lady led me into a private room which turned out to only private for a limited time!! Things were going well until about 1/2 way through, someone came in, hung up a sheet, and brought a Chinese man in to get a massage next to me. Awkward!!! Thank goodness I couldn’t see him through the sheet, but I knew he was there, and that was enough to make this massage uncomfortable.
That was Problem #3, and Problem #4, the huge one is headed my way! Here it is… Some of the most important advice I will give you!! If you cannot understand what a massage therapist in China, or any other country including your own, is asking you, do not assume your answer is “YES”.
You may end up with your “ta tas” being rubbed when you were not interested in having them rubbed!!
Yep, you read right, I heard the little lady say something, and not knowing what she said, just nodded my head “yes”. That was when she grabbed me!
I am sure my eyes have never been so big!!! In shock, I shouted a ‘NO” which luckily she seemed to understand. She responded to my request and moved on…
Unfortunately for me, in this Chinese massage world, I seem to be an extremely slow learner. I was persuaded immediately after, with more hand gestures, to let her rub behind my ears. Problem #5 I believe this was done in effort to drain a lymph node. I didn’t know my lymph node needed draining, but again responded with a “yes”. Honestly, this draining practice hurt, and I had a knot for weeks, and still have a lump to this day!!
I’m Not sure she really drained anything, and more sure she caused scar tissue behind my ear! A permanent reminder of a really fun trip, but something I don’t really recommend!
As I think back on my experiences, I shake my head in disbelief that this all happened, and laugh out loud! I am still unsure if this practice of ‘ta ta’ rubbing is part of their normal massages. Either way, it became part of my story, and one Jared wishes I would keep to myself.
I definitely am more prepared in my travel these days than this very first trip, but I do thrive on being spontaneous, and letting fun find me.
I love to interact with the people from around the world, and have found beauty in all races, neighborhoods, and massage salons.
I smile every time I think of this adventure, and know it all contributes to who I am today. Maybe I should be a little more cautious in my decisions, but I refuse to let fear or discomfort run my life. I want to embrace difference, and within it find familiarity, and happiness.
So lets recap massage travel tips, in the US, and anywhere else in the World!
1. Have Wi Fi at all times with a translator app or a book with translations
2. Pre-plan where you will get Reflexology or a Massages After this trip, I mainly stick to my Hotel.
(But lets be honest, I had a street massage in Bali also, uneventful, and very hot!)
3. Do not say Yes unless you actually know the answer is yes.
4. Embrace the adventure and take all experiences as memories that will last a lifetime (and may cause you to go to therapy:)
I went to Asia with the desire to embrace whatever came my way. The many situations that I experienced here definitely put me so far out of my comfort zone, but gave me the ability to adjust to the variations of another country so much easier.
I believe attitude has everything to do with how you will feel on your trip, and how you will remember it for many years to come.
If you go with the thought you will hate it, you will. If you go with the thought you will love it, you will!!
No matter how many crazy things happen, or go wrong, they added to the journey of being in a foreign country, and gave me new perspectives to rely on for years to come.
I love Asia! Because Even with my Massages gone so wrong, so many other things went right!!