I was never a spa person. Never liked going to salons or spas for any kind of beauty treatments or pampering. (Mainly because I’m very ticklish and because I hate sitting still for hours doing nothing.)
But that’s kinda changed since my few trips to China in the past year. I’ve acquired a new appreciation for being pampered.
The first thing you’ll notice if you go to China is that there is an abundance of spas and massage centres everywhere. Most of the time, they occupy an entire building and look either grand or beautiful or both.
Just walking into one of these places can already make you feel better by half. (But only the building and the reception areas look grand. The rooms where you receive treatment are usually plain in comparison.)
More importantly, the therapists/masseuses are very skilled and make you feel like you’re in good hands. And then there is the fact that everything is incredibly cheap. You can get a good massage for S$8 an hour.
So, the last time I was in China (in January), we went to Tangxia for one night and spent some time at the foot spa. Foot spas, where you get a full body massage as well as a foot soak and massage, are very popular in China.
We got to choose the kind of herbs/flowers for our foot bath. Mine came in this pretty box:
The feet are soaked in a little tub that has a Jaccuzi feature. While your feet are soaking, you get a body massage.
Foot spas are a great way to spend an evening in China!
Following our massage, we went for a hair wash at a salon just across the street from the foot spa. There, I received the best hair wash I’ve ever experienced.
We took a private room for four. It has a row of “beds” with big basins attached. The basins are where the heads go, of course.
I loved the feeling of the therapist’s nails scratching my scalp. Somehow, she knew the exact pressure to apply so it was comfortable and not painful. There was also a scalp massage, followed by some hair treatment thingy which they call “water therapy”.
That was about an hour of pampering, which is a lot more massage than you get from a regular hair wash at a regular salon.
After the treatment, we were each assigned a stylist who dried and styled our hair. Hair cuts can be requested, too, at this point.
Here’s what my stylist did to my hair:
Kinda cool, but impractical because it renders me half-blind by my own hair.
This hair-wash-head-massage-hair-styling set us back about S$10 or so.
The therapists/masseuses/stylists in China are mostly friendly and would chat with you and ask about you. But the one disconcerting thing is that they all use numbers instead of names to identify themselves.
Of course, they would tell you their names if you asked them, but they would prefer you to call them by number. If you like them and want them to service you again the next time you visit, you’re supposed to request for them by number.
(Update: Kell just reminded me that even amongst the staff themselves, they call each other by numbers instead of names.
Which reminds me that when I asked my stylist what his name was, he actually looked taken aback and then mumbled his name after a bit of a pause, followed by quickly telling me his number and stating that I should address him by number, instead.)
A little dehumanising?
You can go to China and live like a king for a few days (or weeks if you can afford the time) without needing a lot of money. Food and lodgings are cheap (and good) and you can always fly budget air.
I’m thinking I want to pay another visit before the year is up!