Massage Madness


Sometimes a weekend trip to the waterfall just isn’t in the cards despite the well laid plans of mice and men. My bestest girlfriend and I have a habit of making long-sighted plans, like “We should have a whiskey tea party” or “We should go see a baseball game one day.” These plans are open ended and often are pushed to the side for more immediate time sensitive plans.

Today, we actually can check one off of the list. I have been trying to do a spa day for a good year now, and finally we went for a pedicure and then a massage.


Day glow pink toes, make the day a whole lot brighter.

Sounds idyllic right? This was my first massage in Taiwan and I have to say I was surprised. I have had a total of two professional massages in my life and those were given in the United States where I had to fill out a health history and promise I had never had any neck injuries.

As might be expected there is no red tape when it comes to finding a massage parlour in Taiwan. We walked in and requested hour long body massages and were led to a chair to bathe our feet in a hot water and then given a brief neck rub down with a hot towel. My friend had a younger male masseuse and I had an older guy with some crazy strong hands.

This massage gentleman knew his stuff. He found every painful deposit of scar tissue in my body and tore it away from the bone. I felt like that carcass of a Thanksgiving turkey slowly being stripped down of all my muscle mass.

When that wasn’t good enough he smacked me until the muscle released. It was a shock to the system for sure. It felt a bit like torture at the time. I think it helped promote circulation and flexibility, but I swear I was almost crying when that man was leaning his elbow into my calf muscle.

This made me think about how different the approach is between home and Taiwan for a few things. For example medical problems are dealt with head on, there isn’t a way of tip-toeing around a medical issues it is all about dealing with it head on. For example a friend of a friend in a restaurant: “Oh your ankle hurts? Let me feel it. Yeah you’re fine just need to stretch it like this…” Me: “Owwwww! Yes, right there is where it hurts.” I swear he wasn’t far from telling me suck it up.

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The business card from the massage parlour. Just ask for masseuse number two.

I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but apparently not as high as the average Taiwanese person.  When people pinch my tender bits relentlessly all I am able to do is wince and vaguely regret I don’t know enough Chinese to articulate “softer”. Plus I am used to requesting a masseuse to go harder, and if I admit it hurts I lose the game with myself where I pretend I have no weakness.

So aside from a few sharp intakes of breath I survived the massage and was rewarded at the end with a compliment from my masseuse in English! “Very strong.” And of course a recommendation to come back more often because I was a wreck. As I hobbled toward my scooter with my friend we juxtaposed the North American responses and Taiwanese responses on…
money N.A. (indirect) T (direct)
massage N.A. (indirect, feel good) T (direct, no foreplay)
emotions N.A. (relatively direct confrontation) T (indirect, what problem?)

Despite the spasms of my screaming nerves I do think I will go back for another massage. Maybe I’m turning Taiwanese afterall.