Day 16: Massages in Hefei

Today was a little bit more relaxed, with just rehearsals and practise for our upcoming concerts. All of us had some trouble waking up this morning after having had such relaxing massages the night before. Last night, after having walked around all day at the ancient village, Tina suggested that we all go to get a traditional Chinese foot massage. This was the best idea I'd heard all week! We went to a huge massage house where we were ushered into a side-room with 4 short single beds facing a television screen, each bed with a complimentary tea. Marty, who had never had a massage in his life up until this point, opted for the 2 hour full body massage. Just before going off to the full massage room, Marty asked Tina to warn the staff about the strength of the massage. Good idea, I thought.

The foot massage was a 90 minute affair, with a small amount of leg back and neck massage towards the end. First, three masseurs suddenly came in with three buckets of hot water. We were directed to put our feet in which were washed and scrubbed. Afterwards they were clean and toweled off, another man came in to fulfill the pedicure option that Emma had exercised. This man performed a pedicure using only a scalpel! He deftly worked this deathly-sharp instrument around her skin and nails without Emma so much as batting an eyelid. During the operation, the pedicure man couldn't stop himself glancing repeatedly at my own gnarled man-hoofs until he finally motioned to me to say I should also exercise the pedicure option. Emma and Tina, thinking this would be fun, also chimed in, urging me to get the foot-scraping. I immediately said no,  but when my foot massage lady also agreed with the pedicure man I felt sufficiently self-conscious and gave in. Never has so much flesh been scraped off my body with so little pain! I really couldn't feel anything but a tickle. Hats off. There will be no before or after photos.

After this the foot massage proper began. It progressed from gentle squeezing to vigorous pummeling, and we were obviously in the hands of experts. Although it was painful, I could somehow feel energy returning to other parts of my body which I thought were completely unrelated to my feet.
After the following leg, back and neck massage we were treated to the hot bag. This was a smallish rectangular sack filled with searingly hot peas. The masseur would place this on a part of my back for about 5 seconds longer than was bearable, and would then quickly move it to another part.
After this we were brought some more water for our tea and left alone to relax. Tina explained, "while a Chinese massage is happening you feel suffering, but afterwards you feel good". This was true.

After a while we met up again with Marty. Apparently he had asked Tina to ask in Chinese for his masseur to be extra vigorous, not extra careful! They sent him a small woman who apparently had the strength of an ox. Today his whole body is covered in bruises. All of us agree that we feel much better having been though, and would definitely go back.

In other news, we have just received some photos from our Hefei concert the other day I thought I'd share with you!