Thursday, July 13, 2006

Five stars above the masses

So I have walked a lot of Shenzhen, at least the central area, all in the name of wireless. I spent hours looking, but I suddenly realized that my problems were probably my own fault. I checked internet connections using my own blog, my own blocked blog. I can post, and access blogger, but I can't read my blog. That said, I can read the NY times. Its funny that they shut down all the blogs, but not blogger.
Anyway, I walked around all morning looking for wireless and seeing the beauty, or lack thereof, of Shenzhen. The city is just not a pretty one, the big buildings are mundane and uninspired. Mind you this is after Hong Kong, a feast of architecture, but anyone who wants to put Shenzhen on a pedestal I disagree with. Right now its hard for me to see this place as anything but a tick on the side of Hong Kong's economic back.
I left my hotel last night without bags, which made the place a lot better for me. I could walk around without fear and without being weighed down. The missions were simple, get a massage, a pencil, and detergent.
The massage was partially based on availability. The market for massages are plentiful here, so they are cheap. Hong Kong wives and business people come down here to shop and be pampered. In fact, telling a Chinese person I am in Shenzhen always leads to "have you bought anything?"
I decided on a nice looking French styled massage place. It was more expensive, but I did not want to deal with prostitution houses. By the way, prostitution is rampant. They don't have girls on the streets, they have pimps who offer such services. The mere mention scares me on so many levels, from moral to medical and of course legal.
So I went to a faux fancy place, which had a twenty or thirty foot painting of Princess Diana in its lobby. I think this was a rare moment for me, because the odds of me entering any place with a massive Princess Diana painting are, I would imagine, pretty small. However, I had set out with the goal in mind, so whatever.
I was planning on the normal body massage, but she mentioned they had one done by a Chinese doctor which focused on shoulders. This sounded like a good call, as my shoulders are pretty bad from my bags. He was a cool guy, and he hurt/helped my shoulders. Then he mentioned if I wanted some various thing I did not understand. It was clear he was saying some weird device for your back, but after that I did not know what he was saying (I am still not used to the thick Beijing way of speaking).
I said, basically, worth a try. My back was oiled up and I was put under a hot light. I assumed that was what I had ordered after a while, and was okay with that, as it was rather nice. Then he leaves and comes back with a tray that a helper had gotten him. Because I was lying in a very cool massage bed, I could not see him.
Suddenly, I hear him start a lighter, followed by the sounds of sparks coming off a torch, there was tinkling of glass and then my back is being pulled hard. I look back, with no doubt a bit of shock in my eyes. He was taking the torch and putting it into glass jars and then sticking them onto to my back.
The process was more than a bit frightening but, we shall say interesting. It felt good, but my mind was mostly focused on how weird it all was. In all he stuck something like ten of them on me. Afterwards, he removed them all and stuck another twelve in different spots. This apparently is an ancient Chinese method for improving one's back. I couldn't help but focus on, "I am not sure if this is going to help, but man is it a good story."
Now my body has dark red and even black circles all over my back and a couple on my arms. They don't hurt per se, but they surely are not pretty. I took a few photos which I will put up eventually. I just now mentioned the process to the waitresses here, and they clearly had both done this, or considered it normal. They both asked if I felt very comfortable now. I must say my back is more relaxed, which was my goal.
The next goal was to get detergent. I ended up in an underground Walmart. It was under a massive fashion mall, across the street from two other massive malls (Communism?). The Walmart was a Walmart, that is to say, nothing special, expect for the lines.
I had not experienced a mainland line. I had heard that they don't line up here, I had no idea. They put the lines so close together in a way forcing the crowd into some kind of order. However, their proximity allowed for people to sort of lump together and exist in all lines at one time, pushing towards the side that they thought would end quickest. This caused the lines to disappear and chaos to reign. I just picked one main line and did not let anyone around me into that one line.
The pencil was without event.
Finding internet this morning was hard, a few places had sites, but none of them worked. However, that may have been me using my own site to test the connection, thus it being block. As such, I may have found four hot spots, or four fake hot spots, I don't know. Eventually I came to this fancy hotel, which had very good food and really sweet service. Now I am going to go see the stock market, get my shirts, and get the heck out of this city.


Juanito said...

I can't believe you are walking around my old stomping grounds. I had a great time in Shenzhen, its a fantastic city (apart from the beggars, thieves, pushy sales people...)
Have you now began walking with your fists closed and your head down? And do you now say to sales people 'bu yong' or 'bu yao'?

~allie said...

I'm glad you finally got to a nice hotel ;)
bu yao! bu yao!
I'm also happy your dark ugly circle bruises don't hurt. I'm surprised you hadn't gotten one of those massages before in Taiwan, they're quite common and more than a litte creepy to me. Take care though, they should only be done every 6 months or so, so no more this trip ok?

Smiranda said...

I saw that glass back procedure in a Chinese movie called "Soap" about a bath house. That's so cool you got that done! I would like to try it at some point. Of course I would like to get any massage at some point.

Also, you and I have to go Spain and eat at this restaurant called Ferran Adria (I discovered this courtesy of Anthony Bourdain). The food is experimental and exciting sounding and of course that means there's no way Nick will go with me and you would be a perfect dinner companion.