Posted by: Sam Olsen | June 5, 2013

My Secret Asian Addiction

I’ve got a secret; not for long, since I am about to share it on this blog. It’s something that’s developed more while I’m on maternity leave. No-one knows where I go, a lot of the time. I tell Tessie the helper that I have some errands to run, to the bank, or something. I’m never late to pick up Lawrence from school, and Number 2 doesn’t mind as long as he gets fed regularly. Of course, husband has suspected, and he sometimes even partakes himself, but he never pushes the boundaries like I do.

I head off the beaten track. The less English spoken, the better.  I don’t need to be able to say much and I have enough Cantonese to make myself understood in these circumstances (although often the proprietors are not HK people and probably aren’t here legally at all). Plus I am less likely to bump into anyone I know who might be shocked or somewhat disgusted.  I nip off the street up or down stairs, into hovels reminiscent of opium dens; red lights flashing above the door.   Cash only, no names exchanged, keep your handbag in sight. Try to ignore the decor and the personal hygiene of the other customers.  All it takes is half an hour, although 45 or 60 minutes is better.

Basically, I pay people to hurt me.   I am addicted to getting local massages.  It’s not expensive, about 10 GBP for half an hour. Feet only costs less than full body. Thai, Chinese, or just plain brutal, I’ll go for them all. Ignore the bed bugs in the massage  mattress (although if the place looks really dodgy I will stick with feet only) and let the nameless masseuse do her work. Since having a baby the ouchy shoulders from breast feeding, the stress of never knowing if they are all going to stay asleep, and plain old exhaustion have driven me time and time again to places I would previously have stayed well clear of! As I have previously commented on this blog (and as sister Cath can attest), the massages one gets here in HK are a wonderful agony. This is no dimmed lights, fluffy towels and scented oils followed by a cup of herbal tea.   Ten days ago a Thai woman somewhere in Kennedy Town threw me across a grubby looking mattress and my back still hasn’t recovered. Hence I had to try and get it fixed today by a mainland guy on Caine Road who perhaps didn’t know the meaning of ‘Hou Tong’, (that hurts), or maybe just chose to ignore it.

The day after there is a niggling reminder of my unfortunate habit, the gentle ache as though I have been weightlifting, when in truth, all I do is lie down and let someone else do the work. So here it is, my asian addiction, no doubt one day I will pay the price in physiotherapy or osteopath bills, but for now, it’s bliss…

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