So I was walking back to my hostel in the underground shopping mall at Taipei’s Main Station and just when I was about to climb the stairs at Exit Y13 something curious caught my eye. Were those people really being hit with butcher knives?
Seeing my surprise, and perhaps a look of utter horror, a man came out to me, smiled and spoke to me in Mandarin. I can’t be sure of what he said but he showed me that the blades were not sharp and then proceeded to do a little demonstration on my back. To my surprise it felt really good, especially after spending the day hiking up Elephant Mountain.
So the next thing I knew a price list was shown to me and, my curiosity getting the better of me, I signed up for 30 minutes.
It began like a normal massage…
The masseuse handed me a cup of water and asked me to remove everything from my pockets and to place my belongings in the basket below the familiar massage table that had a hole for the head on one end.
The woman began by massaging peppermint oil on the back of my neck and on my lower back and then draped a large yellow cloth over me. She started massaging me (with her hands) all over, beginning with my back, and then arms and then legs and the feet.
Then came the knives!!!
I could hear them clanking together before I could feel them. She began pounding my upper back with them, alternating them like a skilled master chef. Even though I wasn’t being cut by them, it was hard to get the image out of my head that I was being chopped with two large butcher knives. She moved down my back to my butt and to my arms…
Ouch! That hurts!
The masseuse continued chopping me on my upper legs and then reached my calves and it was very painful, no doubt due to the amount of stairs I had climbed that day. Thinking it might be a “good pain”, I tried to breathe through it and let the knives do their job.
Oh my god, is she going to chop my head too?
She moved on to my feet and that was heavenly for my aching soles. But then I felt a cloth being draped over my head. She wasn’t planning to chop my head, was she? And then came the knives straight to the back of my head, which, as soon as I managed to get the image of her chopping my head right off out of my head, felt incredibly good. In fact, it became my favorite part of the entire experience.
She slapped me!
Pretty soon, I heard a timer and the knives got put away. The woman massaged me some more like a cool down. Finally, she started slapping me all over my body as if tenderizing me. And with one final slap I knew the massage was over. I drank a little tea, paid my money and left having had a new experience.