In light of last Friday’s International Women’s Day (for which you get half a day off in China!), I wanted to write a short tribute to my girls in Beijing. A lot of expats I know here came to study, went home, and then came back to work. In their time here, they mostly hung out with other expats, and when they weren’t in class, they were partying it up in the Wudaokou or Sanlitun areas. My experience was a bit different. When I first came, I came to do two 6-month hotel internships. My friends were my co-workers, all of whom were Chinese. From my first hotel, I gained a close group of local girl friends, two of whom I’m still close to and hang out with once every week or two weeks (we’re planning a trip soon to the nearby hot springs to celebrate our four years of friendship!). Though I’m grateful for my friendship with them, I’m also glad to have found expat girl friends who understand the things I go through living abroad.
China’s an interesting place. While phone and computer accessories are definitely cheaper here, things like cosmetics, all Apple products, and certain foods should be left to be purchased back in the States. However, one affordable luxury that I was ecstatic to find in Beijing was: MASSAGES!! In my two years here, I have frequented many different massage parlors (as far as I know, not “those” kinds of massage parlors. Then again, who knows what goes on in those private rooms…). Anyway, I’m kind of an expert in massages. Well, not as much as one friend, who will not be named, but goes probably 2-3 times a week more than I do.
In Beijing, there is quite a big range in prices. At Western-style spas, an hour long massage can be anywhere from the hundreds to the thousands (RMB). Typically though, you can find a good foot or body massage for 100RMB an hour or less. When I lived in Sanlitun, my next door neighbor was Lily’s Nails in Yashow Market, where massages were 60RMB for 60 minutes. Pros: Comfortable chairs, plenty of foreigners to chat with. Cons: Brightly lit open area with too many foreigners chatting around you.
After my experiences at Lily’s Nails (although I still like to go for mani-pedis, another affordable luxury in Beijing), I realized that I preferred massage salons that had a dimly lit atmosphere and minimal to no people (er…unless I went by myself. Then I’d prefer not to be alone. Safety comes first!). In Shenzhen, I’ve seen a lot of massage salons where it’s a huge open room with many sofa chairs next to each other. In Beijing, there are more individual rooms with two or three comfy chairs.
A good deal in Wudaokou is…I forgot the name. But it’s in the apartment complex behind Lush and Propoganda, with a green door and downward stairs. If you present a student card, the massage is, 58RMB, I believe, for one hour. Either foot massage or full body. However, the one time I went, I was in pain the entire time and for about three days after. So…go if you like a good deal and painful massages (I won’t judge you. Well maybe just a little).