One of the things I miss most when I’m away from China is this little massage place. I am a little (ok, a lot) spoiled because the massages here are so cheap and so wonderful. I usually go once a week!
A friend discovered this little massage place just walking down the street one day and raved about it so I gave it a try a few days after she found it. That was over a year ago and I’ve been going religiously since then. Fortunately for me, it’s just across the main street and a very quick walk.
It’s on Wenan Rd. (The street just behind the Sheraton Hotel.) Take a right at the “Mushroom Girl” restaurant, just past the Jiujiang Hotel down the little walking street. It’s at the end of that row of buildings on the left.
It’s easy to spot from the English “Traditional Massage” on the outside. It’s simple and clean.
They offer all types of traditional Chinese health & medicine, but the most common services are:
1. Traditional Chinese Body Massage :: This is what I’ve always gotten. It’s a bit different than what you’d be used to if you’ve gotten a massage in the US where they use hot oil, soothing music in a dark room that are meant more for relaxation than anything else. (There is another Japanese chain that specializes more in this type of oil or hot stone massage.)
The “doctors” here are trained in Chinese medicine and health and when they massage, they intend on “putting you back together”, kind of like Humpty Dumpty. Knotted muscles are like the devil in this place and they work on you until they are gone. If you are extra tight, this can get a little painful, but if you can suffer through it (if you can’t, just say so and they’ll ease up.) you’ll feel great tomorrow. Just the kind of massage I love! Wear comfy clothes for this one because interestingly enough you leave your clothes on.
(This bed looks a little messy because I didn’t take the photo until after my massage. They put clean towels and sheets on each time you come in.)
I really love these beds where you can lay flat on your stomach. I want one in my house… I’m a stomach sleeper.
2. Foot Massage :: Tried this for the first time a week or so ago. I had one once before at a different place and really didn’t like it because they tend to hurt. I was pleasantly surprised with this one because it felt great and was quite relaxing, especially after all the walking in Beijing from the few days before.
3. Guansha or “Combing” :: This is a traditional Chinese technique that involves rubbing a bone (I think), flat-looking, comb-with-no-teeth thing across your skin. He explained that it was often used when you feel sick with a cough or stomach-ache and it will make you feel better. I’ve never tried it myself.
4. Baguan aka. “Cupping” :: Have you seen the new Karate Kid movie? The one where Will Smith’s kid moves to Beijing and then gets beat up? Well, the part where Jackie Chan uses the fire and the glass cup and sticks it to the boy’s arms… that’s cupping. (Minus rubbing fire all over his hands and the kid’s stomach, that was just in the movie.)
Supposedly, it uses the heat trapped in the cup to pull toxins from your body. I’ve never done it, except when Dr. Cao was explaining it for this post. Then he stuck one on the back of my shoulder to show me. It doesn’t hurt at all. Just feels like something is sucking on you really hard. And it leaves a big mean-looking hicky for a couple of days. I plan to try it again the next time I’m sick or need a pick me up. I have friends who swear by it.
5. Chinese Herb Therapy :: This is a type of sauna where the boiling water is filled with Chinese herbal medicine. You lay on a bed made of wooden slats with the steaming pots underneath. If I understood correctly, I think they have different combinations for insomnia, weight loss, and other ailments. The sauna lasts 15 minutes and then it’s followed by an hour massage. You can do just the sauna if you’d prefer for 40 RMB.
6. The Best Massage: :: This is some combination of the above. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask which. I’ll try to remember to ask and update this the next time I stop by there.
**Most of these say 60 minutes. In my experience, they are usually longer than 60 minutes… sometimes up to two hours. (Actually, the day I got the foot massage we started chatting about this post among other things and I was there for nearly 3 hours. And then he kept apologizing for being so slow with my massage. I certainly wasn’t complaining.) Tell them if you are on a time constraint, or just do like me and enjoy the extra time. In the afternoons, they’ll often ask if you want to nap after your massage and there are often people napping in the other beds. They believe this is good for your health.
Dr. Cao and Dr. Mu have been there since the first time I visited. The “apprentices” have changed a couple of time since then but they are all quite good. (They are trained in massage, just look much younger and until recently I didn’t know their names so we’ve always called the youngest guy “the apprentice”.)
Dr. Mu is the senior doctor in the shop. I understand the word “doctor” is used loosely here as he has no medical degree in Western medicine but I will say, in my experience, he knows his stuff. In a lot of ways it’s similar to Chiropractics, except here they deal more with the body has a whole instead of just bones or just ligaments or just muscles.
I have a knee injury I’ve been nursing for years. Recently, I had on a brace that I got from a doctor in the US. He had done an MRI, said there was nothing torn, spouted off a couple of possible diagnoses but basically said he wasn’t sure what it was and I just needed physical therapy and/or steroid shots into my knee that may or may not work. um. No, thank you. And physical therapy wasn’t an option since I was heading back here to China.
Anyway, I had the brace on when I went for my massage because my knee had been bothering me. Wang Jian called Dr. Mu over take a look. He wiggled and rubbed in different places asking where it hurt. I can’t really explain what he did to it other it was like a combination of massage and chiropractics, but I walked out with it feeling much better. Since then, he checks on it whenever I go in. I won’t say he “fixed” it, but I will say I haven’t worn that brace much since then and it’s feeling better than it has in a long time.
Whether you “believe” in traditional Chinese medicine or not, this little place is great! They are so friendly. Da Wang Jian, aka. “the Apprentice” speaks English really well. Dr. Cao always has a smile and has been learning English as well. I can’t believe how much he’s learned in the year I’ve been going there. When I first started, he could only say hello! Now he can almost carry on a conversation. Dr. Mu doesn’t speak any English but he always says “hello” (when he isn’t taking his afternoon nap!).
I hope you’ll stop in and get a massage here sometime. I know they’d love to meet you and really, you can’t beat a $20 one hour massage!