The woes and wows of massages in China.

I swear that after the fantastic massages we had had in Thailand, I had no high expectations. Don’t take me wrong: China is bigger, majestic, more impressive altogether, but lacked the sophistication and charm of Thailand. But out of curiosity I did check the price list in our hotel — the high prices put an end to the question. After a long and tiresome day in Beijing, our tour guide raves about Chinese massage and its well known benefits. At the end, he asks if anybody was interested in having professional masseurs come to our hotel rooms. Upon learning the price, I immediately raise my hand and book a massage for me and for my husband. One hour later, the “masseur” knocks on our door. He looked like anything but a masseur. And reeked of alcohol! We said, no, thanks, that’s not what we had in mind, but he does not understand. He calls someone on his cell phone and by his gestures, we understand that he is giving up on us. All the better. But it turned that we were wrong: fifteen minutes later we hear another knock on the door. This time the man is back with a “masseuse”. I look at my husband and together we say no. We want to have massages with professionals. There must be a mistake. The man tries to force the issue. We stand firm. He looked mad and started to speak loudly. Finally, he calls someone again and, thundering god knows what sort of obscenities, leaves with the woman. We both felt relieved, assuming that we had managed to escape a tourist ploy from a Chinese mafia of fake masseurs.

The following day, our English friend Nicholas tells us that he had had the best massage of his life with one of these “impostors”. My husband and I look a each other. We had somehow managed to fall prey yet again to what we call a “lost in translation moment” in China.


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