Medieval Torture…

Sunday 21st November 2004
Note – there was clearly an email missing between this one and the last one, but sadly I can’t find it. Suffice to say the gist of it was mostly about how I was feeling a bit miserable and down for no apparent reason. Also it appears that Cal was being a bit of a prick, which may have also made me feel rubbish.
Big huge thanks to all of you for all your lovely messages!!
It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when there’s twenty people telling you you’re fabulous!!!
Anyway I got a rotten cold right after my last email, so no wonder I was feeling all ratty and emotional. Am feeling much better now and have more cultural news to report!
I told my friend Sarah all about Cal and she was really nice about it. She called me up on Friday at work just after my last class, told me to get straight in a cab and come to her house, cos she’d booked me a massage at the sauna and she’d made me mac and cheese for dinner!
We went over to the sauna (me, Sarah, and Canadian girl, Beth) and all had massages. I have to say I’ve never really been a huge fan of massages, but I think I’ve figured out how they work now.
All the jabbing and poking, thumping and pounding is painful, and therefore causes your muscles to tense up so much that by the time its all over they all relax in relief!!! At least that’s how it felt – I learned the word a-pai-yo, which means “it hurts please”, but then when he finished on my back and shoulders it got worse!! He started massaging my arse…… and it tickled!!!
The poor masseuse, I was laughing so hard and he looked so shocked – I don’t think anyone’s ever laughed at his massages before!! He tried to do the backs of my thighs, but by that point I was so damn ticklish that I kept accidentally kicking him – I swear it was completely involuntary!
Anyway, eventually he finished and I was just getting relaxed when he pulls out a small blowtorch and a tray of ceramic cups!! He heats the cups with the torch, then sticks them on Sarah’s back creating a vacuum that sucks all the flesh into it. Both Sarah and Beth assured me it doesn’t hurt, and just as I was saying “don’t even think about it” the masseuse laughs at me, shoves my head down, and before you can say “Holy medieval suction cups, batman”, he’s got a dozen hot things on my back!!
Well I can tell you first hand that it does hurt, a lot, and I lasted about 45 seconds before I was screaming for them to get them off me. It does make a cool popping sound when they pull them off, but it left weird circular bruises all over my back (it looks like I went hikkie-mad with the hoover!!), which went from purple to black very quickly. Apparently Koreans believe that this brings all the blood to your back, which is supposed to be good for you, but I also found out that they still practice bloodletting here, because it draws all the toxins out of your body, so I remain unconvinced as to the medical benefits of suction cups!
Anyway, just to prove that this insanely weird form of unrelaxing torture really did happen, I have attached a picture of my back (this was two days later so the bruises had faded a little).
After that I spent the weekend with Sarah’s friends in another city called Incheon, where we drank and ate and shopped and came home, so I’m feeling a lot better now!!
Once again, thanks for all your nice emails, and kind thoughts
lots of love
“that’s not a massage, that’s a beating” Maya

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