Beijing Travel diaries

The supposedly free foot massage

On the second last day of the Beijing tour, we were taken to this health center for a free foot massage courtesy of the Chinese government. Knowing these people, there’s ALWAYS a catch. We waited almost an hour to be attended by masseurs who looked much like school goers. I bet they were required to volunteer by their schools, so they volunteered for the job! Ok, that’s just my assumption. We soaked our feet in herb water.

Boiling, steamy water and the herbs.

Then came an Indonesian man who’s been in Beijing for some time. Giving us a welcome speech in his suit, he later introduced us to their in-house health experts to deal with every two people.
I sat beside my mum and the expert asked for her hand, to be “read”. With the help of a translator, he explained that my mum had this and that kind of diseases, prone to this and that kind of diseases. Took his notepad out, wrote everything in Chinese and handed it to my mum. The only characters I could read were the numbers- 5219  or something like that.
The next thing we heard from his assistant was:
“So you want to pay by credit card or cash?”
Say what?
In that 2-minute session of “reading” her palm, the “expert” basically wrote down a RECEIPT my mum’s list of must-have Chinese medicine- to cure her current and future ailments! Total cost: RMB5219 (please note that that’s RM2610!).
That’s bloody ridiculous. You attempt to convince people that they’re sick and need help within two minutes with THAT face, expect us to believe you and spend THAT much on Chinese medicine?
Madness.
Well, the expert and assistant kept on pushing us anyway. We prolonged the conversation, asked this and that (which we later found, was a smart move) until my mum mentioned “I’ll think about it”, minutes later.
What did Mr. Palm Reader do? Made a face, grunted and WALKED OUT of our massage room. Seeing my mum’s refusal, the assistant tried to divert the attention towards me. A failed attempt to sell, she told my mum that I had a “beautiful” face- unfortunately my skin is too dull and it makes me appear darker, so I need to consume some herbs to better regulate my blood circulation or something (for RMB2000 something). The masseurs also butted in this time. The guy who massaged my feet said:
“Beautiful face, but…”
Add his discouraging facial expression after that.
Kurang asam betul la.

My personal foot masseur.
After a few number of “No”, the masseurs gave each other “signals”, packed up and left. My mum sympathized the assistant translator and bought herbs for foot soaking anyway.
So I checked out how the other tour participants were doing. My brother sat at the back with the younger ladies and they feet were massaged for 3 minutes or so- because these experts knew that there was no way they’re going to purchase any medicine. Other couples, too. Only those who are discussing of medicines and actually thinking are being massaged HAHA. Our move to prolong the conversation meant longer massage time!

One of the longerst-served couple. The bought a few boxes of medicine.
Anyway, I know how Chinese herbs can be really good. I just wished they would promote them more civilly instead of being that pushy- I’m sure they’d convince more people that way. There’s a frequent saying that’s repeated so often in economics- “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. I can now say that there’s no such thing as a FREE foot massage in Beijing!

p/s: Just prolong your conversation for the fun of it!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Nazneen
    June 15, 2010 at 10:11 PM

    love massage! shall take u to my fav place here 🙂

  • Reply
    Nina Nurziana
    June 16, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    love massage too 😉

  • Reply
    Miasuraya
    June 20, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    Hey, who doesn’t? 😉

  • Reply
    me
    April 18, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Hey pal, thanks for the fun reading. I actually was in Beijing 2 days ago and after the silk factory FREE tour and the jade factory free tour i passed the free foot massage, but i was really courious to find out about how this catch 32 massage would be played out, so thanks for clarifying that and the laughs.

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