Monday, 12 May 2008

Set Chair to Stun

Massage HutI've had a couple of massages in my life and I've pretty much hated every one. I've never needed a massage for medical purposes and I don't enjoy them enough to do them recreationally. In Singapore, I appear to be in my very small minority of my own.

At the low end, there's retired guys doing a spot of home business, handing out flyers offering a "Good Facial massage" for $10 (£3.40). Massage around Asia takes different styles but it's pretty common all over and he was covering all bases with 3 languages; English ("Facial"), Chinese and Malay ("Cu Ci Muka", or "wash face").

A lesser observed practice is fire cupping which leaves distinctive, round bruises on the skin but we are getting off into traditional Chinese medicine now, which has a distinct and robust status alongside Western medicine, not euphemistically like Complementary Medicine. Chinese will happily use both, simultaneously without any sense of conflict.

Local shopping areas usually have a reflexology shop that is often full to bursting on weekends. My local offers a 40min foot massage for $22 (£8.20) or a 20min upper body massage for $18 (£6.70), both available on a buy 10 and get 2 free basis. Discounting bulk appointments is very common to gain repeat business in a notoriously fickle customer base. I've heard good things about reflexology, but again, I've never felt ill enough to give it a try, though now I'm curious why it's half the cost of an upper body massage; in a surface area / mass basis, it sounds like the wrong way around.

Serious body wobblers have machinery at home, usually made by Osim who do massage chairs, foot massagers, back massagers, eye massagers, and more. We are talking major hardware here. The range of chairs includes a model with mood lighting, synchronised music plus massage and costs £3,000. This thing isn't a chair, it's an escape pod. I amazes me where they find the space to put such huge pieces of furniture but it's really just one end of a market for self-health products in a country without an NHS.