"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page" - St. Augustine
Rain fell lazily, washing away the feeble sunshine and any expectation of a dry Foshan outing. Huddled beneath our shared umbrella, Jake and I dodged haphazard puddles and the weaving paths of poncho-clad scooter drivers. We'd set out to find a local bookstore, but had succeeded only in finding ourselves drenched.
As we passed what appeared to be a massage parlor, I mentioned how one of my former instructors had raved about his Foshan foot massage experience. Though having offered this tid-bit casually, I suddenly felt a prick of worry at the curious gleam which flickered across Jake's face.
For reasons unknown, I have always possessed an aversion to feet. Perhaps, during the springtime of my youth, I was accosted by a brigade of trolls sporting hairy, wart-riddled feet, who then zapped my memory in a MIB fashion. I really can't say.
Feigning deafness at Jake's suggestion of midday foot therapy, I charged onward through the rain, a sudden devotee to finding the allusive bookstore. Unfortunately for my foot phobia, Jake can be as persuasive as Morpheus nudging Neo down the rabbit hole.
Needless to say, I abandoned Mission Bookstore and found myself outside the massage joint. Eyeing the curious one-room establishment, I stood inside the open doorway uncertainly, watching as Jake setted into a cushiony chair. Glancing down at my wet, flip-flopped feet, I figured the mud bath they'd already received was revitalizing enough for one day.
But resistance was futile. As one of the Chinese workers ushered me to a seat next to Jake, I realized doom was upon me.
"This'll be interesting," I thought, as an older gentleman carried out two buckets filled with steaming, tea-hued water.
We soaked our feet in the unknown brew as two of the workers began kneading our backs, necks and arms. Instrumental music flowed from speakers throughout the room, and I slowly felt my discomfort drip away with each pull on my muscles.
"This isn't so bad," I thought. "No feet."
The workers skillfully employeed their hands, knuckles, and elbows to ease out our kinks. Toward the end of the massage, one of the workers even used his knees to pop Jake's back.
Relaxed and feeling quite cozy, I didn't object as the worker motioned for me to turn around so he could begin work on my feet. Using some sort of oil-water mixture followed by coconut-scented lotion, the worker kneaded from the tip of my toes to my calves. At one point, as he drew his knuckle down the length of each foot, I was convinced he was slicing them open with a hidden blade of some kind. He repeated the process several times on the bottom of both feet, causing me to bite my lip and silently chant, "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger..."
The massage drew to a close as he carefully dabbed my feet and legs dry with a yellow towel. "Okay!" he said, rising from his stool. I swung my feet off the ottoman, reluctant to slide them back into my dirty flip-flops.
Feet tingling, Jake and I gathered our belongings before going to pay. "Duo shao qian?" Jake asked, reaching for his wallet. "Er shi kuai," the man responded. Jake handed over the money, and we expressed our thanks before heading back out into the rain.
We'd just spent a total of $3, for two 30-minute massages. Who knew foot phobia could be conquered for so cheap?