Foot Massage Confessions

14 Nov 2013
Spa foot massage

Photo by bodhana mallorca

In a recent ChinesePod lesson on foot baths, I made this comment:

> I think I find this form of Chinese “relaxation” painful about 90% of the time, but that other 10% is quite nice!

This prompted this reply from RJ:

> My experience as well. Compared to “foot massage”, water-boarding is a sport. They scrape the sensitive bottoms of your feet with a very dull knife, so as not to draw blood. All the while they are thinking: die laowai, die. Had I been a CIA operative under interrogation, I would have cracked. The gal that took me, my host, seemed to be having a great time however. The deluxe 1.5 hour package also came with a happy ending. They packed my legs in a warm “herbal paste” that felt a lot like hot drain cleaner. They also wrap it up in several layers of cloth and tie knots so you can not escape. I was so relieved to see that there was still skin on my legs when they finally removed the restraints. I had to drink an extra beer at dinner just to get rid of the residual pain. How I managed to smile for an hour and a half I dont know, but I could just imagine the whole crew laughing and slapping their thighs after we left. “We got another one, die laowai die”! 🙂

User podster replied with:

> Ah yes, the Chinese foot torture. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Oh, sorry, it’s just “enhanced interrogation.” I got some chemical goo that probably doubles as rust remover at the shipyard smeared on my legs during one of these therapeutic treatments. As the searing pain began to set in, they asked me “烫吗?” [“Too hot?”] I wonder how to ask in Chinese exactly how much pain is “normal.”

I really do wonder if our western feet are built differently (wimpier), or what. Exaggeration aside, this kind of experience seems to be par for the course when it comes to foot baths/massages.

Share

John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. What’s the matter with you guys? Soft! 🙂
    I think you may be making the mistake of going too deluxe (expensive) – they feel obliged to give you a special experience.
    I’ve found that every foot massage is different, even within the one city; depends which shifu they learnt from.

    • Exactly. I have never yet had a foot massage anywhere in China which I have not enjoyed. Indeed there have been many where I have left feeling as though I was walking on air. Unlucky guys! is all I can say…
      Interesting take on the idea of “Happy Ending”!!!
      Massage in general is one of my great pleasures here in China, once you find a good place and good masseuse it becomes a bit of an addiction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *