After our day of Donkey Tacos, etc. I really expected a tame evening. We had a nice dinner of Peking Duck with my friend Will and then came back to the house we are staying at. When Jason returned from his basketball game he really wanted to go for a massage which is always something I am game for. Ty stayed at the house while we walked over to the local massage place.
To provide some background, this is the same place we went the night we arrived in Beijing. Jason and his friend opted for a foot massage that night, Ty chose the Chinese massage, and I went for Thai. What I got was two hours of near torture and some moves that only the most skilled wrestler could possible perform, from a tiny Chinese woman who was about 80 pounds. I felt great after, but during the process it felt like Yoga by force and included stretching me in ways my body had never even come close to. I thought at one point I had pulled a hamstring and was maybe close to losing a limb or two. Again, once we left I felt great.
Cut to last night. Jason and I go back to this place for what I expect to be a foot massage, but he talks me into getting another Thai massage for two hours. It always sounds better in your memory than it does in reality, so what the heck. The foot massage doesn’t last as long so I would have had to wait for him. As luck would have it, I got the same 80 lb. monster with the strength of 10 men. Just like the night we arrived, I got a good 2 hour beating from her with even some new moves thrown in, although it was much less painful because I was stretched out from the previous session. Up next came the real shocker…
Jason had been talking to his masseuse and mine (this all takes place in the same room) in Mandarin and at the end they offered us a bonus service for being repeat customers (no, not that kind of service). We got to choose between ear candling and something the called “fire tower,” which later I discovered was actually “fire towel.” We chose the latter, mostly because it is my nature to try the unknown and because who can pass up the chance to be lit on fire after losing a fight with a small Chinese woman?
The process went something like this:
- The “fire master” comes into the room, puts some oil or water (not sure) on your back
- He then lays two towels on your back and covers your head with a cloth
- The next thing you hear (because you can’t see anything now) is him spraying liquid on the towels on your back (probably lighter fluid from the BBQ) and the sound of him lighting it on fire. Very interesting sound – the same as you hear in movies when the villain lights a puddle of gasoline, except it is coming from your own back (Jason took the photo above with his phone)
- After about 5-10 seconds he covers the flame with another towel and you start to feel searing heat on your back. Like most excruciating treatments in China, it is designed to improve your circulation and overall health. I let you know if it worked later
- He repeats this process about 7-8 times before I am released and he moves on to Jason
I’ve had the pleasure of doing many new and scary things, but being lit on fire in China is a new one for me. That said, it is now in my memory and therefore I remember it quite fondly. I think I may need therapy soon.