Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Today was a good day...

Today is a public holiday in Hong Kong, so instead of going to the office and staring at a computer, I stayed at home ... staring at another computer. I'm not sure why I and my wife are trying to read all 2,000 Questionable Content strips in one week, but we are. I got the jump on her by reading everything from #1300 onward last week, but she's got ahead of me while I've been reading from #1.

After three hours of this buffoonery, we left the house and went to the spa at the Mandarin Oriental in Central. We're not usually the types to go off to a spa, but one of our lovely friends gave us vouchers to go there for our wedding present, and it seemed like the thing to do. We booked in for a 90 minute massage, hoping it would be a bit more relaxing than the usual jam-an-elbow-between-two-vertebrae treatment that constitutes a massage in Hong Kong.

I know the Mandarin Oriental is a high-class hotel, but I've never been to a spa before (The House Of One Thousand Massages (and hooky DVDs) in Shenzhen doesn't really count). So I was a bit overawed to be given my own plastic slippers, my own glass of lavender-flavoured water, and my own guide to show me around the different treatment rooms.

"Treatment", that is, as in "treating your body to volcanic heat". There's a hamam (42-45 degree heat, 100% humidity), a dry sauna (82 degree heat, no humidity) a rainforest sauna (60 degree heat, lots of humidity and the odd squirt of water), and the hamam scrub, where you get heated on a table while somebody scrubs you. I had half an hour before my massage, so I tried sitting in the hamam.

I thought I was going to melt. From watching Death Of A Badger I knew fanning myself with my hands was going to be worse than doing nothing, but I didn't realise breathing through my mouth would be so hard. Every breath felt soaked in salt (probably the salt running off my face), and sweat was pouring off me in moments. Strangely, I didn't feel awful. Just very disinclined to move. Ten minutes of that and I shambled to the dry sauna, where I managed five minutes before going to rub ice in my body.

A bit like stepping from the streets of Hong Kong in August into an airconditioned building in Hong Kong in August, I suppose. But with more subdued lighting.

After that, the massage was incredibly relaxing; I passed out after half an hour, and was only awoken when the lady rang a small bell - which feels a lot more civilised than a big man shaking you awake and yelling in Cantonese at you.

On the other hand, now rendered imbecilic by 90 minutes of having my shoulders rubbed, it was more easy to sell me expensive moisturiser. Damn and blast my new, less wrinkly and battered face.

That would have been enough for the day, but it was only 3 o'clock: we then took a taxi to the South China Athletic Association in Causeway Bay to go bowling.

I'd be the first to admit that bowling shouldn't be part of an athletic association, but on the other hand I love bowling; perhaps it's from watching The Big Lebowski. Or perhaps it's harking back to going bowling for my birthday at the Lewisham Megabowl when I was young. Or going drinking the best Guinness in South London at the Lewisham Megabowl with my wonderful friend Jenny.

For the first time in my life, I bowled a turkey. Not by flinging a bird down the lane, but by getting three consecutive strikes with my weird-ass, underarm backwards bowling style. I thought that was completely normal until everyone laughed at me, but then they hadn't bowled a turkey, had they?

And if that wonderful event wasn't enough ... I backed into a metal sign on the street and sliced my back open. Not the best end to a lovely day - I'm just hoping I don't have tetanus. Ran for 3 1/2 miles afterwards, in the hope that sweat would drive out any infection. Oh, and then read a hundred more Questionable Contents.


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