After keeping up a blistering pace walking some 65 kilometers in total over 3 days in China while on a buying trip, we decided to take a breather on our last afternoon and visited a local market and local food store before a dinner of Northeastern Chinese food. We had an hour to kill before dinner and we decided to take the whole team of 6 to get a local foot massage. Our agent/guide recommended a place and we were promptly shown to a room with six recliners and after some hubbub, six masseuses/masseurs presented themselves.
We opted for their “special massage” which apparently meant our feet were to be placed in a plastic bag with several cups of local herbs and whatnot in near boiling hot water. I swear I was certain we would burn our skin in this stuff and some folks opted to wait a few minutes before submerging their feet in the sludgy brown foot tea… The next 45 minutes turned into one of the best, but also one of the MOST PAINFUL foot massages I have EVER experienced. The masseuses were giggling away as the six of us occasionally screamed in pain/pleasure and I just hoped they knew what they were doing and there would be no permanent damage to my feet. But just when I thought things were winding down (I was about 3 minutes ahead of the rest of the party), my masseuse took out two glass balls, added some alcohol and frigging IGNITED them and as the blue flame within was burning, she attached them to the soles of my feet, creating a strong vacuum and leaving them on there for a couple of minutes. I have NEVER experienced this treatment and everyone else thought this was wacky… honestly, I am not sure what it does, but it didn’t hurt so I guess you go with the flow…Turns out it was the ancient practice of “cupping” and its most recent high visibility appearance was on the back of Michael Phelps while competing in the Rio Olympics…
…and after that we were asked to turn over and they gave a rather quick but rigorous leg/back massage and it was done. As I looked over at our head purchaser, a man in his early 30’s I nearly screamed as his masseuse sat down on his back and quite bizarrely pulled his legs over her shoulders. It was the most amazing thing to see, maybe because I am particularly inflexible. He just thought it was part of the service, but no one else got this treatment. She must have thought he was much more malleable. The photo is priceless for office ribbing. Overall, this was an hour well spent.