One of the vocabulary words I've learned in Mandarin class has been TaiTai which means Mrs., as in "Zaoshang hao Wang taitai" or Good Morning Mrs. Wang. However, I've also learned that TaiTai has a different, somewhat pujorative, connotation here in Hong Kong where its used to describe the wives of rich businessmen whose life of leisure revolves around shopping, spa treatments, and mah jong.
One of the defining characteristics of a taitai are trips to Shenzhen to get their treatments cheaper than they could in Hong Kong. I guess even though their rich, the taitais don't want to waste money needlessly. One such spa is literally over the border with Shenzhen, and somebody in the MBA office(a HK native) had taken a couple of the girls in the program a month ago, and these girls in turn organized a return trip, attended by both girls and guys, while I was in Beijing.
Everybody raved about this place (one girl from Paris even bought a membership for future discounts), so I felt like I missed out. As a result, when the email was sent about another trip I jumped on the chance for this, um, "cultural experience," and I went last night after a really boring "CEO talk" in Central about how Six Sigma was like Mah Jong. . . Please don't ask. . .
Well after our ride to the end of the KCR line, we found ourselves at the spa at 10pm. It was definitely very chinese looking, but you could tell this was a nice place. Everything was written in chinese characters, but luckily there were a couple of English speaking staff members who could help us. The girls and guys parted ways into our respective locker rooms, and I quickly changed ready to get pampered.
I asked one of the german guys, who came the last time, what we did next, but before I could answer one of the staff members motioned for me to follow him. He pointed to my back, and I figured they wanted to clean my back so that the masseur would work with clean skin. I nodded, and next thing I know I'm on a table and this guy is pouring buckets of water on me and scrubbing my back hard. It kind of hurt, but everytime I tried to leave, I was told to stay put. After 15 minutes I was allowedto get up, and the guy smiled and pointed to all of my skin that was now on the table as if this was a good thing. Seriously, I think I left 5 layers of epidermis behind. . .
As I leave the locker room the other students point and laugh and ask to see my back, which apparentlyis now beet red. Turns out the treatment was extra, but for HK$30, I wasn't going to quibble. Plus, now my back was as smooth as a baby's. Ha!
We were hungry and wanted to eat, but the buffet wasn't starting for 40 minutes, andwe couldn't read the menu. In order to kill time a couple of us went to get foot massages, and I go over just to chat. One of the girls breaks out her Mandarin book, and the staff starts laughing at us trying to practice our Mandarin on them. One of them, good-naturdely, joins us in going Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma (in different tones meaning Mother, Hemp, Horse, Swear. . . It's funny how Swear and Mom have the same sound. . .).
After eating, we go for our 2 hour massages, which felt really good. All the knots in myback were kneaded out and I felt completely relaxed. So much so that I fell asleep in the middle. Afterwards we then went to bed in the massage rooms, where we were allowed to stay until we felt like getting up.
Grand total for the back scrubbing, dinner, 2 hour massage, and ability to sleep overnight: HK$220 (US$28), this place was quite the find. You can't even get a 30 minute massage in the states for that.
However I don't know how much pampering I can take in the future, my back now hurts whenever I take a shower. . .