Thursday, August 17, 2006

Shipped to Shanghai! Vol. 20 -- Lap of Luxury

I've been too negative about Shanghai lately, so I'll dwell on some of the perks of living in the world's biggest construction area.

Westerners who come to the lower-cost destinations in Asia are often tempted to stay longer. Except for falling in love with a local, I think one of the big reasons is that things are just so much cheaper:

--Taxis. The meter starts at 11 RMB ($1.37 USD) for the first few kilometers. It's the total opposite of Europe, where'd I 'd feel my bank account draining whenever I took a taxi.

--DVDs. 10 RMB ($1.25 USD) max, if from a shop. Goes for half that if you buy them off the street.

--Travel. Long-distance trains and buses are insanely cheap compared to flights when traveling within China.

--Clothes. Choose the fabric and have your clothes hand-tailored at the Fabric Market on Lujiabang Rd. I've known girls to get dresses personally made before going back home.

--Housekeeping. We pay our maid 25 RMB ($3.16 USD) to clean our apartment for two hours, once a week. There's no way we could afford a maid back in the West.

A guilty pleasure many expats enjoy in China is massages. Legit ones, I mean! Not the whorehouses that pretend to be "barbershops."

My friends and I hit C's, a seedy hip-hop bar, a few nights ago. The air conditioner in the bar was operational, but the one in the dance floor was broken. So after dancing hard to one of my favorite songs, "Kimosabe," I was soaked with sweat. Time to relax.

Luckily, the group was planning to hit up a massage parlor nearby and get foot massages. They're cheap, only 30 RMB ($3.76 USD) for a 90-minute foot massage. Elizabeth has been trying to get me to go for a long time, but I've resisted. I felt weird about having some stranger touch me. That and I'm extremely ticklish.

Since it was Erica's last night before returning to England, I gave in. I definitely wanted to hang out with her before she left.

We went to Elizabeth's favorite foot massage place just down the road from our apartment. The women cheerfully greeted us in Chinese and got to work.

First, they plunged our feet into buckets of hot water. I'm really new at this, so I thought the water was too hot. My masseuse poured in some cold water to cool it a little.

I'm not sure if this was normal, but my masseuese dug her nails into my legs a lot when she was doing her work. This was supposed to be relaxing?

Elizabeth told me later that I'd gotten the worst masseuse in the parlor. That's why it hurt to walk afterwards. The Marcus Luck in effect.

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The Massage Crew (right to left): Me, Erica, Chantel, Melissa, and Elizabeth