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Beijing: a professional massage from a blind therapist (Post #11).

I love getting massages. Moreover, I’ve always wanted to get a professional massage. The problem is, it’s far too expensive in California. What better time to add that to my have-dones in China?

There are two options in China. One has better ambiance and has fine-looking girls that give you the mediocre massage. For an hour, it’s typically on the upper end of 200¥ ($40-50). The second one is more plain-looking and is done by blind-on-birth people that attended professional masseuse schools. An hour ranges from 60-85¥ ($9-13). Pay for eye-candy and a mediocre massage, or to actually get a quality one? I chose the latter option obviously – don’t test my willpower now!

The massage salon was close to campus. Accompanying me was Conor who also wanted to get his back straightened out. On the way, I called the salon to make sure they were open and had open slots for us.

Upon walking into the place, I was greeted by a masseuse sitting in the front desk. I wasn’t expecting him to be blind as well; I would have thought that there would be a clerk who would help seat customers and oversee money exchanges. As I looked into the back rooms, I saw that every single worker was blind. A shock in itself.

After telling him that Conor and I wanted the 50-minute massage for 80¥ ($12.69), the man ushered us into the back room. I noticed that all the workers walked around comfortably, confidently, and minimized groping for objects – they seemed to know exactly where they were.

Since Conor wasn’t as comfortable speaking in Mandarin, I did all the talking. Conor and I soon laid face down on two adjacent beds and our massage began.

To sum up the massage in two words: damn good. The masseuse hit all my knots in my upper back. My shoulders, neck, trapezius, lower back, arms and fingers, and head were all precisely hit with ample pressure – it was the best (duh) massage I’ve ever received.

Something equally rewarding during that 50-minute session was the conversation my masseuse and I had. Because I spoke to Conor in English, he eventually asked where we were from. I told him that we were American, and he exclaimed with surprise as he thought that I was Chinese because my Mandarin was excellent – always happy to hear that. I then explained to him that my parents were from Taiwan and that I was born in the California, and that Conor and I were studying abroad in PKU.

Afterward, we talked about several interesting subjects. He asked me what faces were on American bills, first asking if Benjamin Franklin was on it, in which I confidently replied that he was the $100 bill. He then asked if the exchange rate was the same for US-China, in which I said that $1 is roughly 6.3¥. I then told him that Washington was the $1 bill. I didn’t know how to say the rest of the names in Chinese, so I asked if he understood Jefferson. Conor contributed by adding in Hamilton. The masseuse could not understood the English names, unfortunately.

He then told me that he doesn’t know the faces of the people in Chinese bills as well. I told him that most (or at least I hope) Americans don’t recognize the faces of the people on their own bills, so that he had nothing to worry about. People only focus on the number, I said.

Afterward, he asked me what the US was like compared to China. I told him that I could only really speak on behalf of California. I said that the weather was nice and that it typically ranged from 20-25 degrees Celsius. I said that Beijing’s subway system was superior to that of San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. I said that a majority of people need a car to get around the state. I told him that I felt most US citizens were wasteful in comparison to the frugal Asian mentality. Conor contributed by saying that American students were a lot lazier than Chinese students.

Halfway through the session, I told the masseuse that he was really effective. He asked if I had ever received a professional massage before, and I replied that it was my first time. He asked how much massages cost in the US, and I told him that it ranged from $50-60 and that it was too expensive. He was also surprised by the price.

They were very professional, courteous, and friendly. Afterward, the masseuse brought Conor and I a cup of water. We paid $200 and received four $10 in change. I wonder how they know how much money to give and receive – I’m sure that, due to having been blind since birth, they have an extremely acute touch that we don’t possess. If time permits, I will be going back.

P.S. As I speak now, I’ve looked up the American bills. Jefferson is the $2 bill, not the $20. That’s Andrew Jackson. The $10 bill is Alexander Hamilton and the $50 is Ulysses Grant. Lincoln is the $5 bill. I’m glad I learned my dollar bills today.

P.S.S. My entire body feels so relaxed. That was an epic massage.

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