The China Narratives – Day 1 Part 2: The Search For Wifi & The Blind Masseuse

The Search for WiFi

Things I realize I take for granted every day: Internet, text messaging, email. And now that it is elusive, I am learning to appreciate it much more.

My first priority after checking into the hotel was to figure out and enter the WiFi password. To my dismay, the WiFi connected only in a small portion of the room, by the door and nowhere near a convenient area to work in.

It was so bad, we finally requested that a router be sent up so that I can work (and more importantly, stay in contact with my loved ones via text!)

We spent most of the first day, just walking around this 5 story monstrous shopping center, where my mom conducts her business with her vendors and then spends the remaining time on her favorite hobby, shopping. The shopping center is reminiscent of the LA Jewelry Mart: aisles and aisles of products, shops, an overload of stimulus with people trying to have you stop and take a look at their wares, talking to you in numerous languages. Everywhere you look, shiny trinkets and tempting brands jump out at you, and you try to not make any eye contact, in fears of the shopkeeper’s relentless pursuit of your patronage.

There is one store my mom frequents and spends a lot of money at where she’s been granted access to their WiFi. I pounce. As soon as he enters the sacred code onto my phone, I’m off –answering emails, text messages, Instagramming. And so then, of course, I visit the shop no more than 6 times throughout the first day; trying to wean myself from the constant barrage of information I usually get at the touch of a button.

The Blind Masseuse

One of the first things I see when I get about three feet into the first bookstore we enter is a sign for a massage. When I was here last, about 10 years ago, every night, after a full day of shopping, my mom’s friend and I would walk across the street from our hotel and get 2-hour massages. It was blissful.

The sign advertised for three-HOUR massage. The price? Roughly 15 US Dollars. Whaaaaat??!

So, guess what I did all afternoon? Toward the end of the day, my mom, who gets her nails done and hair cut when she’s out here, went to get a manicure, and I made a beeline for the masseuse. I paid $10 for two hours.

As I sit in the room, listening to the quiet hum of the air conditioning, the door opens and a man walks in. At first, I thought he came into the wrong room, until he walked straight into the wall and then addresses me. Realizing simultaneously that he is both blind and my masseuse, I dubiously lay down.

It was the most interesting and painful massages ever. In a good way, I guess. Interesting, because it was fascinating to see him work around his handicap, and painful because he spent about 90 minutes finding every knotted muscle in my back and doing his best to unknot them. I forget that massages here are less focused on relaxation and more on health and reflexology. I’m gonna be sore tomorrow. And the next day. And probably the one after that. Then, I’m going back.

The exchange rate is like 6.32 or something like that.

This is one of the stalls in the ladies room. Sorry, but I had to share. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to use it the first time I saw it. It’s so gross.

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