During my time with Microsoft, I traveled the world, spending about 40% of my time flying intercontinental. It was a great way to dip into the huge variety of cultures I was luck enough to see. It was also tiring so I would often set up massages in the hotels where I was staying to untangle myself after the 10-15 hour flights I was flying at the time.
Two massages really stand out for me:
TOKYO – I arranged with the hotel for a massage therapist to come to my room. Keep in mind that this was Japan so the hotel room was small to start off with. I had been lucky enough to get a King sized mattress which meant there were about five inches of free space around the bed. (The hotel, by the way, was the Century Hyatt where “Lost In Translation” with Bill Murray had been filmed). There was a timid knock at the door and I discovered a very old man on the other side. Turns out that it is (or at least was) very common to have old, blind Chinese men doing massage work because it addressed any issues related to modesty. While slightly awkward, it was a good rub.
CHINA – my trips to China were way before the country even thought about hosting the Olympics. That’s to say, all the signs were in Chinese only, no one spoke English and things were, generally speaking, still pretty rough around the edges. It made for a GREAT adventure getting around the city with handwritten cards given to me by the hotel saying, for example, “Please take me to the Temple of Heaven” or ultimately “Please return me to my hotel located at…” It was like being deaf and dumb and I loved every second of it.
My massage in China was hilarious. A man showed up at my hotel room door – tall, stout and dressed like a butcher wearing a white jacket and butchers hat. He insisted I keep my bath robe on and lay on the bed and then, leaning over me, he put both hands on my back and started doing something which was akin to CPR…or maybe it was more like dribbling a basketball with both hands. The bed was springy and I found myself repeatedly getting the wind knocked out of me as I bounced up and down face down on the bed “unh, unh, unh, unh.” ENOUGH! The poor man didn’t speak a word of English and my efforts to politely tell him I no longer required his services were met with a hurt, panicked look.