That’s what I felt like—a glob of dough bejng kneaded. The 60-something bespectacled uncle seemed seriously intent to mash, knead, and pummel every knot on my body, particularly the back of my legs and thighs which I asked him to focus on. Walking on the streets of Taipei the whole day has taken its toll.
In all my previous trips to this city, I’ve never had a massage. Coming from a country where good legit massages can cost as low as USD 7 an hour, paying triple that in Taipei is enough to ease any muscular pain. However, I decided to have one last night. You know, just to write it off my bucket list. Besides, I always get massages every where I travel. So why exempt Taiwan?
I went to Royal Bali Spa at the corner of my hostel along Kunming St. in Ximen. There was another massage place just beside it but it looked too industrialized— people seated close to each other while aunties and uncles churned-out one foot massage to another. The Royal Bali seemed more tranquil with its wooden interiors, soft lights, and fisherman pants wearing staff. Paid NT 1499 cash (NT 1899 if card) at the reception and told them I wanted a male therapist. In a few minutes, the bespectacled uncle arrived and escorted me to a curtained cubicle at the spacious second level. There was a large plastic basket for putting your stuff and hangers for clothes. Disposable undies were provided. The bed was quite narrow but at least it had a disposable top sheet.
I laid on my stomach and in a few minutes, uncle returned, showed me the stopwatch indicating a 1 hour and 30 minute session and started with a dry massage using his elbows and forearms. The pressure was so heavy, I swear uncle had turned into an elephant. It felt good however as I could feel blood rushing through my tight muscles. The oil massage was equally rough. It was no dreamy relaxing session. Uncle seemed to have noticed how tight my legs were as he mercilessly bore down my muscles with his thumbs. Felt good again as the aches dissipated. Turning on my back, I winced as uncle brought his entire weight down my front and side thighs. I had to signal him to ease off a bit. Nevertheless, it was good. By the time the timer went off, my body felt like it had been through a rolling pin, a meat tenderizer, and a bulldozer. I am used to getting myofascial release therapy so the discomfort was not unknown to me as it merely indicated how tight my muscles and the fascia were. As I stood up, put on my clothes, and walked back to my hostel, I felt lighter.
P.s. Just as I had read in blogs, there was no tipping. Uncle simply said the session was over and he left. Down at the reception, he was nowhere to be found and no one seemed to mind me.