3/07/09: The past few nights, when I’ve walked by our gate keepers little room, I notice that his friend, who is also the maintenance man for our apartment complex, is giving himself a foot bath in a big orange bucket. I have seen this situation among other men as well…especially men who seem to be in the service industry. I’m not sure why I find this foot bath so interesting…maybe it’s because I feel like it’s a pretty intimate thing to be giving yourself a foot bath in public.
I had this experience once last winter when Hunan had “the snow disaster” as our students called it. I had traveled on the train from Hengyang to Changsha. There was no heat, and it felt like only wood planks separated my feet from the cold, winter winds as our train zipped along the rural terrain. By the time I got to my friends’ house in Changsha, my feet were numb. As soon as my friend greeted me, I asked if I could please soak my feet in their bathtub before going to have supper together.
I think foot baths are more popular here in the winter, because one’s feet get so cold that warm water is the only way to get the blood circulating again. On a related note, our Chinese teacher, told us that Changsha is known for having great foot massages. He said that there is a joke that Beijing is the face of China, but Changsha is the foot of China. I have seen several of these foot massage places here in Changsha. For only 10 kuai, you can have your feet soaked, rubbed, clipped, etc. And, the foot rubs here are not exclusive to the feet. Usually during a foot massage, the masseuse also gives you a back, arm, and leg massage.