In someone elses hands.


If there’s one thing synonymous with China it’s massage. Is there anyone out there who actually doesn’t like massage? If so, I have yet to find them. Myself, I think I have a borderline addiction to it; finding it increasingly difficult to walk past the numerous massage outlets that inhabit each and every Australian shopping centre these days.

Historically I have developed issues with my neck – no doubt as a side-effect from spending too much time in front of computers. There have always been massage parlours, but never so accessible as these Chinese places that have sprung up everywhere. They all have fairly standardised pricing, are quick, convenient and are basically like the massage equivalent of a fast-food outlet.

These tiny stores used to inhabit the central walkways of the larger centres and have in recent years begun to appear in their own stores – where I figure they’re doing enough turn-over to easily support their rent. It’s rare to see these places quiet, and I highly doubt the wages being paid to the staff are anything worth writing home about. In fact I would be very interested to know exactly how much they are paid – as the people working them are predominantly (if not all) Chinese students.

The whole fact that they are students also raises the issue as to whether or not they are actually qualified to provide a proper massage. While I normally go for the neck, shoulders and back option, I have had more than a few where I have pulled up excessively sore for the next few days after it – the sign I think of a poorly trained masseur. Likewise, there is nothing worse than a ‘butterfly dancing on your shoulder’, where the pressure is so weak you can barely feel them.

The other thing to be wary of are the people who use excessive amounts of what I call ‘filler moves.’ Generally this involves rubbing your shoulder blade with their elbow for what feels like ridiculously long periods of time – a move which uses little energy or strength, and to me is a sign of laziness. You can pick a proper masseur almost instantly, as they pick their way up and down your back, paying attention to each and every relevant muscle as they go.

A definite tip I have picked up along the way is to hold on to the good masseurs you find along the way. Ask their name and they will happily give you their card which often tells you which days they actually work. Some places actually consider this a VIP option, and one particular guy I was seeing regularly would always give me a 60 minute massage when I was only paying for 40 minutes – a definite bonus in my book.

The flip side of asking their name is that they are actually benefit from it also. I went to see a young girl who I had seen the week previous who was actually very good. I am noticing a trend that the girls tend to give better massages than the older men – who previously I would have assumed to be the ‘masters’, but more often than not turn out to be the ‘fillers.’ Anyhow, she employs a ‘step on back’ technique where she stands on my back, and I have to say, the combination of the extra width and strength of the pressure throughout the entire back is fantastic.

I asked this girl last night as she was working on my arm whether or not they benefitted from being asked for by name and she confirmed that they in fact did. She said that the Boss often recognised it, and would reward them by providing them with more working hours in what I assumed was quite high competition for shifts considering how many different students work in each individual place. I am more than happy to ask for someone by name if it benefits them – because obviously, it benefits me also.


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One Response to “In someone elses hands.”

  1. Eric Says:

    yeah..I love massage ,too!
    I think massage in Australia and Taiwan must be much expensive than China!

    Really good job! Those multiple articles are useful for learning my English and understanding more local and travel information about China!
    Enjoy them and look foward more!

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