Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Lap of luxury. Our boss here is a woman from Taiwan and LA named Sally Wu. Sally Wu has connections in Shenzhen, too, and one of them that she's been urging on us is a massage/spa operation on the fifth floor of the Shangri La Hotel, near the Shenzhen train station. Several of us accepted the offer to be pampered and to explore the five floor indoor mall nearby which specializes in bootleg designer watches, purses, clothes and lots of what can only be described as junk. I did manage to find several Mao butane lighters that play "The East is Red" when they are opened and fired up.
The area is crawling with beggars, also. And as a group of foreigners we were natural targets. One enterprising fellow had a monkey that begged with him, others were maimed and more looked oddly well off for scrounging on the streets.
We finally repaired to the spa by which time it was 11 pm. Imagine the world's largest living room, with about 32 lounger chairs and a wide screen TV showing an incomprehensible Chinese movie that seemed to veer from a psychotic gangster flick to a comedy involving three glam boy musicians from frame to frame. Imagine most of these chairs occupied by Chinese men and women getting pedicures, manicures and foot massages while sipping complimentary tea and juice and eating fresh fruit.
The foot massage took almost an hour, by which time I was falling asleep in my commie barca lounger. Then we repaired to massage room for a three hour body rub down that had me and another teacher as stupified ooze by 2 a.m. Too late to go back to our school, but we were allowed to sleep on our massage tables (included in the price) until 7 a.m. The whole shebang cost about $22. And it ijncluded a WESTERN STYLE TOILET!
Our cab ride back this morning was an adventure of sorts when the driver realized he'd taken the wrong long exit ramp to our destination. Instead of forging on and finding another off ramp, he shifted to reverse and backed up a good quarter mile, albeit slowly, against oncoming traffic on the center line as my companion and I quaked and prayed in the backseat.
I just learned that the speciality at lunch today is cold pig's blood pudding. No thanks.
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