I could stay in China just for this

25 May

Last week, my friend Julia suggested that we go shopping. (If you’re getting the impression that “going shopping” is a popular social activity for ladies here, you’re correct.) So on Saturday afternoon, I met her and her daughter Fairy at their apartment and we took the No. 5 bus into the city.

This is Fairy and her cousin, Angel, behind her. They’re both in my Monday night tutoring group.

It was interesting to go shopping with Julia, because she’s a no-nonsense type of personality to start with, and she’s a working mom and we had her kid with us, so it was shopping on a schedule. She was not interested in window shopping; she knew which stores she thought we should hit and that’s where we went, and boom, we were done. To be honest, that’s the type of shopping I usually prefer in the states, and I was fine with it–and she introduced me to some nice discount stores.

Then she suggested that we go to her beauty parlor, where she thought she could convince them to give me a free facial because she’s a loyal customer. She also mentioned that, for 30 rmb, they would rub my back and neck as well. I was picturing something like those places you see at American malls where you sit pitched forward in the special chair while they rub your back over your shirt and people at the pretzel stand watch and eat their cheese dip, but 30 rmb is $4.60 American, so I said sure.

We walked over to the beauty parlor, which meant walking around one of the two lakes in the city center and through the main downtown park. It was packed with people and really loud; local radio stations had karaoke booths set up, and the local opera company was giving a free performance. I tried to get some photos, but it was about to start raining, and we were in a hurry.

There’s a narrow strip of land between the two lakes, and on it there’s an ancient monastery (which is under renovation).

I wanted to get a good picture of the opera performers, but it was so packed that I could only see them from way off to the side, and I had wait for them to turn and face me.

When we got to the “beauty parlor” it turned out to be not so much a beauty parlor as a full service spa. The kind of place that doesn’t do hair or nails at all–it was a massage therapy, acupuncture, mud bath, hot stone treatment, sit around in a little robe, fancy women-only spa. And for 30 rmb, they did 3 hours of treatments.

I’ll repeat the important parts of that paragraph:

$4.60. 3 hours of spa treatments.

They did a full-body massage, a facial, an eye treatment, some type of digestion-aiding herbal saran wrap mud thing, a breast cancer prevention herbal steam treatment, and a percussive scalp massage. It was really great. It was also amusing to hear new age-y spa talk through the filter of a language barrier. They kept saying things like, “Those energy in your lungs has some stones.” At one point, the massage therapist asked me, “Do your arms feel basical? They must be scraped.” I told her to scrape away (I don’t know what she meant, there was no scraping involved at any point in the process).

They’ve never had an American client before and the women who worked there were so excited that they all wanted to take photos with me. It’s a members only kind of place, and as we were leaving, the manager offered me a special membership. 24 treatments for 400 rmb. That’s an amazing price ($61 for 24 treatments, or $2.60 per 3 hour treatment), but I’m only going to be here in Jiujiang for 6 more weeks or so, and this place is across town. I have to factor in 2 hours of travel time (or 60 rmb in cab fare) per visit, and I just don’t think I can make it back 24 times, so at first I thanked them and reluctantly turned them down. But this is a better price than they give Julia as a normal member, so she convinced them to let us split the package. She offered to pay more than half the fee and take 14 of the treatments, leaving me with 10. So now I get to go back to Jofuda women’s health club 10 times before I leave town.

Me, Julia, and my massage therapist:

My face is bright red because they’d just spent 45 minutes scrubbing, heating, cooling, and massaging it. It was awesome.

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3 Responses to “I could stay in China just for this”

  1. Tomika May 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    you know what is weird? I could actually hear your voice reading this entry. Its either the overnight shifts or I MISS YOU! I am so glad things continue to be great in China 🙂

  2. Kathy May 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    Your lady friends must like you to share thier secrets like this with you!

  3. Kathy May 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Loved the photos too!

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