Monday, December 31, 2007

Local massage wonders

Tonight I had dinner with my ex, Louise, but before we had dinner, we decided to go to the Chinese foot massage place near my house. I'd never been there before so I agreed to go.

Let me preface by saying that only in the past few months have I discovered the incredibleness of the massage houses in Yantai. A few months ago, I went with my friends Nate and Barbara to the Huang Hai Korean massage place. There I had a 40 minute long (and very painful) back, neck, and head massage, followed by fire cups.

Fire cups are spherical glass cups that are placed on your back after heating the inside air with fire. The cooling air causes a suction against your skin, holding the cup to your back. At first the sensation is quite uncomfortable... very tight, pinching... but after a few minutes your back goes numb and it feels quite pleasant. I've been told that the idea is that the suction removed the 4 pathogens of Chinese medicine from your body, improving your health. Once the cups are removed the color of the remaining "hicky" can tell you a lot about the problems you have in that particular area. It also makes for a great photo op (note to any attractive women reading this post... I have since lost the love handles displayed in this photo):

Since going that first time, I've been going back each week for the same treatment, although now I know to stay away from a particular women that works there... judging by the amount of pain that women deals out, I think she must hate all men or something. In the US, an hour massage every week may sounds like an extravagance... but in Yantai, the full hour at Huang Hai only costs me 45 RMB (about $5).

So, bring me back to tonight's foot massage.

I'd heard about this place before. Barbara had told me that the staff there have the ability to diagnose problems with your body, simply by feeling your feet. Hard to believe, but after tonight I am a true believer.

As Louise and I were having our foot massages, each of us would indicate pain at various points. The staff would then attempt to explain what part of our bodies that indicated we had a problem in, and each time we were amazed at their accuracy.

One sore spot on Louise's foot indicated a sore throat... she said she had in-fact had a terrible cough and sore throat these past few days.

My massage guy asked me if I had been out drinking the night before. I confirmed this and he said he knew because the spot on my foot that is connected to my liver was tough.

Louise's person told her that she had bad lower back pain, which is true.

At one point I yelled out in pain and my guy told me that I have a severe pain in my knee... since I've been going to the gym and running, my left knee has been in excruciating pain. Just last week I bought very, very expensive shark cartilage tablets (for the glucosamine) to try and ease the pain.

I was stunned... and very impressed. I think I will go back to the foot massage place often. A whole hour of foot massage plus a 10 minute back massage only cost 30 RMB each (about $4).