There are quite a few public places in Kunming where Chinese congregate. One is in front of the park devoted to the numerous ethnic nationalities that all share the province of Yunnan.
Two Tui Na massage therapists doing what they do, there in the park in Kunming.
In front of these locations, it isn't unusual to see massage therapists set up for a massage on a little stool. They wear white lab coats, most of them, and there's an air of authenticity about it all, unlike the other massage parlors that we've visited.
We decided, after our time in the hospital one afternoon, to visit these massage therapists. We gravitated toward the two blind ones. After a little discussion as to price, ("20 Yuan from head to toe") we got started. Incidentally, this twenty Yuan is just under three American dollars.
The massage began at the head. My massage therapist, as well as Linda's had obviously been trained in Tui Na since we recognized most of the strokes and the points on the body used with those strokes.
Unfortunately, with any massage in Asia, apparently, there is a price to pay. A couple of young men soon began to congregate around us trying to sell us stuff. I had my massage therapist stop so I could sit facing the opposite direction, where nobody could sit right in front of me and disturb my enjoying this massage.
The two young men with the wares to sell soon left, but following them were other people, all of whom apparently had never seen a foreigner get a massage, or something, because as usual, we were the center of attention.
It would have been a really great massage, but it is difficult to both relax your defenses, which is required when receiving a massage, and keep them up which is required when you have thirty Chinese people gawking at you from all sides.
There is no personal space in China, maybe in the bathroom, that's it. Or perhaps the Chinese have a developed their own personal space on the inside. They must have, nobody could live in such close proximity to so many other people and not have a little room inside of their hearts to return to from time to time.
As a personal mission, I've been working on just that. The fact that China has brought out an immediate need for me to create, furnish and move into this personal space is probably one of the more useful skills that I'll be able to develop during this time in China.
By the time the massage was over, Linda and I decided that it wasn't a good idea for both of us to open our wallets. There are a great many pickpockets in this area and we didn't want everyone knowing that we both had money and where we had it. I offered to pay for us both, but I only had a 50 Yuan note. Our two massages was only 40 Yuan. I told the blind man that I was giving him 50 and he thanked me very deeply. I guess he thought that I was giving him 50 instead of expecting 10 Yuan change.
I asked Linda if she was cool with paying 25 Yuan each instead of 20 Yuan, and she was. There was no way that we were going to dicker around with these two massage therapists for 5 Yuan in front of a growing crowd that were really beginning to cramp us. We got our things together and left.
It was a good massage, but as with every massage we've had so far in Asia, there's a price to pay.
It may have been silly for us to expect a little privacy while getting the massage at a public square, but it is still beyond us what it is that people are looking at. There are many massage therapists giving massages to others, but no one looks.
As I was leaving, I took a good hard look at everyone who'd stopped and gawked at us. They looked to me like the kind that would cross the street to look at an accident victim. Not the kind of person I readily respect.
These traveling Tui Na massage therapists also congregate in front of a large department store near our hospital on weekend evenings. We might try going there next time. Generally, at night, we look less like foreigners and we might be able to get a massage without being on stage at the same time.
The other option is to have someone charging money to watch us. Now that's a thought.