There are some things I do in China, that I never did in Spain. One of them is getting a massage. It sounds kind of luxurious if you do it in Europe, but in China it is completely normal and everybody does it. You can find from very fancy and expensive massage houses, with candle lit rooms, free snacks and pajamas to change into, to small places with a couple of old guys as masseurs and very cheap prices. And a lot of options in between, of course. (I am talking of real massage places, not those in which the girls are wearing suspiciously short skirts. I have never been to one of those).
Usually massage parlours offer two basic services: body massage and foot massage. You can splurge and get a combo of both things. Some spas offer also other types of massage, like face massage, belly massage, etc. I have never tried one of those. I always go for the typical Chinese body massage.
Now, mind you: Chinese body massage is not one of those soft, relaxing massages, with scented oil. No. Chinese massage is dry and given with your clothes on (or a pajamas, if it is a fancy place). And, the most important thing, it is not relaxing at all. Chinese massage feels exactly the same as if someone was beating the crap out of you. Why would someone like it, then? Because if your back was hurting, it will get better. Not immediately, though. You will be very screwed for a couple of days, while you recover from the beating, and after that you will feel better.
Last time I went to have a massage was two weeks ago. My back was hurting quite a lot (I think the chairs we have in the office are not ergonomic at all) and I was assigned a male masseur. Upon putting his hands on my back he immediately told me it was very stiff. Then he proceeded to slowly kill me. I am used to painful massages and I enjoy them, but this guy was really hurting. Shoulders, spine, lower back, he was punching me all over. Then he grabbed my legs and twisted them up. After 60 very painful minutes, he was finally done. I turned and lied on my back. I felt like if I was floating, just because my flesh had been pounded for a long time and now could finally have a rest. But it felt good!
Chinese massage parlours also offer other services that I am not very sure are related to massage. One of them is ear cleaning. Why would someone need another person to clean their ears I don’t know, but many Chinese middle aged men seem to enjoy it. I tried it once and hated it as the girl inserted a cotton stick in my ear and twisted it all around making a lot of noise. It was very unpleasant.
There is another service, which I only tried once: the fire cupping. This is done by putting fire inside some glass cups that look like yoghourt containers and then stick it to your back. Because the fire burns the air, there is vacuum inside the glass and it suctions your skin and doesn’t fall. According to Chinese traditional medicine, fire cupping extracts the cold out of your body. I did it once just to try and I don’t know if I got anything extracted, but I liked the marks that the cups leave. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt. I didn’t feel anything.
Have you ever tried Chinese massage or fire cupping?