It’s a beautiful, warm Autumn Sunday afternoon in Jianou. What can I do with it? I know! How about gather some friends together and head to the spa? That’s right. The spa. In China, a trip to the spa is a wonderful treat and rather inexpensive. So, what better way to spend a nice relaxing afternoon than have a good soak and an outstanding massage? Answer? There isn’t one.
Get Me to the Spa on Time
I finished off lunch around 12 and began to pack up to get ready. I was expecting to meet my friends Amy and Phillip and their 16-month-old daughter Daisy at around 1 p.m. At 12:32 I got a message from Phillip saying that Daisy was up from her nap and they would be leaving their place at around 1:30. I don’t know where my head was at, but I read it as “leaving our place at around 12:30.” I quickly finished getting ready and headed out the door. Don’t want to keep them waiting. D’oh!
After packing my bag, donning shoes, and riding the elevator down 14 stories I burst purposefully from my apartment building. I strode to the main road and in a short time I had flagged a taxi, negotiated a price, and was on my way to the spa. I was listening to Eddie Vedder sing Guaranteed on my playlist. It was a perfect song for riding in the car with the window down and the warm breeze of a 24 degree fall day blowing through the window. It was one of those moments of utter peace and tranquility that we all occasionally feel.
China is a place where the streets are usually full of noise and chaos. It is a rare moment indeed when you can glide down a busy street and enjoy the feeling of the warm wind and become awash in feelings of complete ease. It was a beautiful moment. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled as the song entered its lengthy acoustic solo outro. It is a gorgeous piece of music that touches me deep inside. It is music that I can become lost in. As I finished that long slow exhale I could feel the last of the tension leaving my shoulders. My mind was becoming quiet and calm, and…
BEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPP!!! The insipid horn of an impatient motorist screamed in through my window. It ripped the solitude from my grasp with horrible callousness and set my heart racing. “You son of a b***h!” I thought as I fought the urge to extend one or both middle fingers. “I oughta take that horn and shove it up your a**e!! You motherless piece of shoe poop. You are the fly in my ointment, the sand in my Vaseline, the gum on my shoe, the booger on my fing…” Wait. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Quiet and calm. Humph. So much for that.
A short time later I arrived at the spa, paid the driver, and bound excitedly in the door. It was when I entered and didn’t see my friends that I checked my messages and came to the realization that I had misread Phillip’s earlier message and was quite a bit early. Oops. Instead of waiting outside I decided to take advantage of the extra time and enjoy an extra long soak.
Once you enter the spa you are greeted by a spacious and well decorated foyer that houses both the front desk and the shoe check. First, I went to the front desk to get a numbered bracelet and numbered shoe clip. The number on the bracelet is both your shoe storage number and your locker number. The next step is to check your shoes and get a pair of rubber flip flops. Then, you enter the change room. Once you enter here, an attendant will lead you to your locker and use first yours and his bracelet in sequence to unlock the door. I like the security of this arrangement. It means that no one that works there can open your locker. They must have your bracelet as well as their own. It is a very comforting policy.
Then comes the walk of shame.
Abandon All Clothes, Ye That Enter Here
I call it the walk of shame, but it isn’t really. It just kind of feels that way. After you change out of your clothes at your locker take what feels like a long walk to the showers past one, sometimes two, smiling attendants, while wearing nothing but your bracelet and rubber flip flops. It’s a little awkward. In truth, the walk isn’t that long. It just feels that way.
After the walk of shame comes a shower. Then it’s time for a soak. This area has two pools, a dry sauna, an area for drying your hair, and a tea room. It also has a drying area where you can find towels and a uniform of shorts and a tee shirt to don if you are heading on to the massage area.
It’s Like a Sauna in Here
The first and smaller of the two pools is the hot pool, usually sweltering in a water temperature of 42 to 43 degrees Celsius. Today the pool was set at an especially hot 43.1 degrees. The water stings when you first submerge yourself in it. It does get a little more comfortable in time but I find there is always a little bit of a bite, but it’s very therapeutic. After sitting in it for a few minutes I can feel tension disappearing and my mind becoming quiet and my body relaxed. I sat in the pool submerged to my chin for as long as I could until I started to feel like most of my strength had left me. Then it was time to move to the second pool.
The second pool is much larger than the first. Despite being a temperature of 39 degrees Celsius, it felt nice and cool compared to the first. This pool also offers some water jet massage areas. There is one that massages your neck, and one for your feet. Another is a lounge chair style area that massages all along your body. There is even one where you sit on a perforated steel plate where water jets out and massages your butt! I recommend keeping your legs closed fellas. It can get a little rough down there.
After you have your fill of the pools you can enjoy the sauna, have some tea, or dry off, don some clothes, and head off in search of a massage. Before you reach the massage, there is an area where you can sit in a nice comfortable chair and relax and cool down. You can even recline the chair and have a nap if you desire. After that, there is an area where food is served buffet style during the lunch and dinner hours. One of the great things about this spa is that there are no time limits. You can enjoy the services for as long as you like, and you can eat as much food as you want. The only thing that has a limit is the massage.
Get a massage. You Know You Knead It
On this day, there were three of us, so Amy, Phillip, and I all had our massages simultaneously in a three-bed room. To help Amy and Phillip relax and enjoy their massage to the fullest, the staff are more than willing to take care of adorable little Daisy and entertain her for the duration of the massage. I think they look forward to it. Daisy seems to enjoy it too. So, it’s a win-win situation.
The massage is 60 minutes of bliss. My masseuse today actually got on my back and massaged my back and legs with her shins and knees. It was so good at times that I was rippled with cold shivers and covered in goosebumps.
When your massage is finished, you are welcome to stay and enjoy the room for an unlimited time. You can bring in food and watch a show or movie on the big screen TV. I have been told that you can sleep there if you want. And all of this for the grand price of $22 Canadian dollars. To me, that is such a little price to pay to have such an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon with friends, and to walk away from it feeling so invigorated. It is without a doubt one of my favorite things to do in Jianou.