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And I Quit

October 9, 2009

By Elena Garcia

I did it. After working for six grueling months. I decided it best to stop working and enjoy the fruits of my labor and the remaining time we have here in Shanghai. So in the midst of my trip home I sent my boss my letter and made the decision not to return to a life behind the desk!

Although I’ll save the details of my work life I must say I am enjoying my time off. So far that has included: shopping trips, oil massages and mani pedi’s.

I know I live a rough life!

Just today Garrett and I took some time and endured a grueling hour of foot massages. For those who haven’t dealt with the “suffering” of a foot massage, let me open your eyes.

In China, getting a soothing rub isn’t the same investment as a massage at home. You don’t have to book your weekend appointment months in advance, you don’t have to save your pennies to pay for it and you don’t have to travel far and wide for a great masseuse.

Just a block from our house is a serene spa open until 2 am everyday of the week. Walk in anytime to find the comforts of small Chinese hands and cooling stone fountains. Spend an hour in a chair getting your feet slathered or on table getting your back caressed.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, these places are not legit. They come with happy endings and disease control! They’re the kind of places you drive by in the Tenderloin and think… who goes there? I have heard some horrific stories of “ovary massages” and “prostate massages.” I’ve even heard stories of embarrassment and rejection from different massage houses because they didn’t allow girls past the velvet ropes, or so to speak.

Once, after a long day, a few girlfriends walked into a massage house that they had heard amazing things about. With the dim lights, soft candles and haze of trickling waterfalls they lost sight of the dingy crevices. They perused the menu and with chinglish translations to guide them they did the point and pick and selected a service they thought would sooth their stresses away. (Or at least that tension that climbs into your shoulder blades and crawls into your neck, that’s the worse.) But after gesturing to the receptionist, they were shocked to get the gaze of rejection from her. “This massage only for men.” They did the point and pick over and over only to get rejected again and again. Finally they asked which ones were available to them… three of the 15 or so options were open to their relaxation needs. They slowly backed out, never to return.

But most places aren’t like this; for the most part they’re actually quite nice. Especially the one Garrett and I went to today.

Dragonfly is this heaven like destination where stone paths guide you, chirping birds relax your ears and warm cushions pad your bottom. They’re a little more expensive than some of the local places but they’re amazing. It’s like walking into the Four Seasons and having to pay only 20 bucks for your treatments.

For an entire hour Garrett and I floated on warm cushions in the darkness of waterfalls while tiny Chinese fingers rubbed our feet and wiped away our day’s journey. It was amazing!

There are other places which offer the same services and they range in price between 10 and 20 dollars and most are comparable in atmosphere but they’re a little harder to find. Once I had to enter a glooming skyscraper, go up to the 5th floor, roam the grimy hallways only to find the calmest of spas. I would have never found it, had I not been told exactly where to go. I don’t think those types of places are meant for foreigners. Nevertheless, the staff spoke enough English and they relaxed me into sleep.

I must also warn you, these little hands are buff. Just because the ladies are 5 feet tall, weigh 90 pounds soaking wet and have the face of a thirteen-year-old girl doesn’t mean they wont tear your skin and crush your muscles. I’ve walked away sore from the rubs of these ladies. It’s like when you meet them they seem so angel like and gentle and then you turn your back to them and the cast of Smackdown clobbers you like you would never imagine.

But it’s still amazing.