Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Guitar troubadours and Moonlight serenades (a belated Moon Festival post)

By Kevin

To celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival we opted to spend the evening outdoors, dining on “ethnic foods street.”

Ok, maybe the whole street isn't really a big variety of ethnic foods. It's mostly chuars – meat on a stick. So it's mostly Uyiger or Hui food. Good Muslim food.

As we ate our meat on a stick, no less than four guitar playing troubadours set out upon the crowd, toting amplifiers.

One guy carried his amp on his back, as he strummed his Fender Strat and sang into the evening breeze.

A girl, who was pretty good actually, handed diners a song list. After they picked a song, she went to work, strumming away on her Ibanez guitar for a few kuai.

Another guy, who was particularly tone deaf, repeatedly strummed one chord on his amplified acoustic guitar as he sang. Yet people politely listened.

It reminded me of the various street performers on Venice Beach or on the 3rd Street Promenade, but they were completely mobile.

“I wonder what songs they sing,” I asked, wondering if they knew any U2...perhaps “It's a beautiful day,” I thought.

“Maybe they sing moon songs.”

One of the traditions this day is to gaze at the big, round full moon, and eat round moon cakes with friends and family.

“Are there many moon songs?” Christina asked.

In unison, Wes, Ruth and I broke into three different moon songs...

“There's a bad moon rising,” Wes belted, evoking Credence Clearwater Revival.

“Moon River,” Ruth crooned, evoking Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany's.” “ Huckleberry friend.”

I opted for the Waterboy's cover of Victoria Williams from the “Sweet Relief” compilation: “Why look at that moon, a-way up high, seeing everything, that goes by, why look at that moon...”

Eventually, we headed back home, grabbing ice cream bars for the trip. On the way, we were coaxed to inspect a new spa with a sign declaring, “Physical Therapy.”

We found out that they'd do a 90-minute foot massage for 48 RMB, but if three of us got it, they'd give us the fourth free. However, they said prices range from 48 RMB for feet to 180 RMB for a full treatment.

They lured us in to inspect the posh surroundings, which were the nicest of any massage parlor I've seen yet in China.

But my bruised back just wasn't up for it today.

Two days ago, Ruth and I decided to check out the little massage clinic we'd walked by last week. She got a 15 RMB half-hour massage by a halfway blind guy. I was transferred to another guy for an hour of abuse.

Massages in China aren't about relaxation, I've learned. They're about healing.

So while we anticipated full-body massages, when they asked what hurts, we said “hou bei” - our backs....and they went to work on them.

By the time I left, my masseuse had grinded his elbow into almost every part of my back, done some chiropractic jujitsu moves to work out some kinks and left me feeling bruised and beaten. On the way home, I felt good, but by that evening, I could feel the bruises rising. They haven't made it to the surface, though, so maybe it'll be OK. Lots of soreness.

The “Physical Therapy” place however, seemed more focused on pampering and actually making you feel BETTER after you leave, so maybe we'll have to try it once our last massage heals. We'll see...

No comments: