It’s A Day in China

Looks like I’ve been run over by a truck, but I’m okay.

It’s just my first traditional Chinese massage. After wearing my paper diaper for a second week in a row (but not thong-like or pink this time),I made the mistake of asking the masseuse to go deeper this time. Well, I’ve had tight hamstrings.

She began using a studded board to roll over my calves. It’s never pleasant having calves massaged. And the hammy still needed a strong once over. But, soon, the board was up on my arms.

Some kinda liquids were periodically squirted out of little brown bottles onto my skin. That was the only pleasant part about this.

Gripping the table, blood pressure rising, sweat droplets dropped down my forehead as the studded board raked over my biceps and inner arms, like a road repair truck tearing off an old top layer of asphalt.

How did this happen??!

It only got worse when I glanced down and saw this:

And then this:

The therapist says this was 垃圾 (laji) leaving my body (trash/junk).

From then on, I began feeling queasy as the other arm was being mangled by my inquisitor.

I did not request this arm massage.

I did not expect this.

Why am I even here??!!

Shades of my Thai massages in Bangkok. The worst pain I have ever experienced (see archived story, July 2016). With enormous thanks, it stopped before reaching such a juncture between life and death.

I did not expect torture, hardly able to answer simple questions posed by my girlfriend next door as she relaxed with facial mask, her scalp getting a comforting massage.

Adding insult to injury, I was then commanded to not shower until the next day.

Well, I knew right then and there I would rebel against my captors. Darn them. Later–after a taxi ride, numerous subway rides and using public bathrooms–I went home and showered.

And what a uniquely China day it was…

Backseat on my girl’s pink electric motorbike, helmet less–as is the Chinese way.

Riding special motorbike & bicycle lanes most of the time, over canals, occasionally down sections of sidewalk, pedestrians included.

Watching two older men play badminton on the sidewalk outside Family Mart at 6:30 in the morning.

Minhang Sports Park filled with runners by 6:30. With open arms, these strangers from 虎跑团 ,Tiger Running Team, welcomes me into their ranks. I ran with a crew of five men and two women, winding our way around a lake, down narrow treelined pathways and then alongside a beautiful pond surrounded by willow trees.

We ran by elders doing Qi Gong, through the ranks of other elders practicing advanced Tai Chi, and still another large group of women dancing to Chinese pop music.

A middle-aged man with a tree branch in hand did martial arts moves, ever so seriously, occasionally smashing his branch into the ground.

Steered clear of him, but saluted my man on rollerblades, prancing around, making exaggerated facial expressions and waving to every passerby.

Does he remember me from last Saturday?

A lone couple, probably in their 70’s, ballroom dances in the entrance to a parking garage as two security guards watch them intensely from a few meters away, chain smoking.

Looping back each time, more couples join them until there are at least 8, dancing away the morning.

Public bathrooms with squat toilets and nary a square of toilet paper.

Curious messages placed above urinals…

Gorgeously landscaped roadways, full of flowers. High rise Apartment towers. Giant TV screens randomly placed at intersections, projecting scenes from Chinese cartoons.

Hammer & Sickles across from the cartoons, always a reminder that The Party rules here.

A Buddhist vegan restaurant with 56 RMB lunch special–all you can eat…for TWO. That’s about $9.

For TWO.

A nice hair salon stop for a tremendously needed haircut. Wash-cut-wash-style.

48RMB.

About $7.50.

Shaanxi cuisine. My first time. Dinner for two, four dishes for about $7.50.

“Wood ear” dessert after a massage, hot water, and flower tea:

One other Laowai spotted entire day, in early morning with running team.

“会的,” my girlfriend responded to a friend when her friend asked if I speak Chinese.

Huge compliment. Huge motivation for me.

I can–a tiny bit–and I WILL.

And I’m going to ride this wave for a big while; see where it takes me…

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