One of the best things about Chin.a is that service industry-type stuff is superrr cheap, easy to come by, and accessible to all people. This includes getting your hair done, massages, traditional Chin.ese medicine, and manicures.
This year I have a routine. I get my nails done every Monday with my co-worker Rebecca. It costs about USD $1.10. I get my hair washed, blow-dried, and straightened about once a week. It costs about USD $3.00. I get a blind massage (full body massage from a blind person - known as Chin.ese medicine) about once a month. It costs about $5.00 for one hour. I get a foot massage once every two weeks. It costs about $4.50 for an hour and a half.
At each of these establishments I have my "people." It took me awhile to find a hair place I love, but finally I have a place I frequent (maybe a little toooo often). I don't even have to say anything, I just walk in and they know what I want. We have fun. They teach me words and I teach them words. It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but sometimes when I'm feeling lonely, I go get my hair done or go get a massage, then I know I will have someone to talk to and have an interesting experience.
I also see these relationships as an incredible opportunity for international relations. I am the only foreigner these people will probably ever have prolonged contact with - making our relationship valuable for transmitting ideas about both of our countries, cultures, and beliefs. It's fun to think about.
Two of my best friends are returning to the States in a few weeks for good. They have a list of "Chin.ese experiences" that they want to do before they leave. They haven't fully grasped the wonder that is the Chi.nese service industry, and have added many of my monthly excursions to their list.
So, last night we got a foot massage. Heavenly. Today we got a blind massage and hair washes. My body loves me. It has been poked, prodded, rubbed, scrubbed, and soaked to high heavens. I asked my massager to give me extra attention on my head because I have been having serious diet coke withdrawals (it's been 4 weeks without one) and I don't drink coffee on days I don't work. Needless to say, I'm in pain.
Well the Chin.ese massage is amazing - heavenly, genius, incredible, fascinating, perfect, undeniably transcendant. I completely believe in the healing properties of holistic massage after all my times being smooshed and pulled on the massagers table. My headache is gone.
My friends who are leaving got super brave and decided to get "cupping" done. Cupping is an ancient technique that is meant to release toxins from the body. What happens is little glass cups are lit on fire from the inside and then places strategically all over a person's back - causing suction to occur on that spot. After about 15 minutes, they are removed. Circle bruises remain and supposedly the coloring of these circles says a lot about a persons health.
My friends said it didn't really hurt, just became numb and was difficult to take deep breaths because it was so tight across their back from all the suctioning. Hmmm, intriguing.
My friends are rockstars. I am waaay too wimpy to get that done.
Here's us after our million massages, before the hair washes, enjoying dinner -
Katie getting her cups placed! What a BA:
This man had SO MANY cups on his back, check out the torch she is using:
Just another day in Chi.na.
walk slow. xoxo.