Beijing has culture. Shanghai has commercial. Loose broad terms that I’m sure will be met with much disagreement, but I call it as I see it. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, that distinction. Just that Shanghai is a relatively young city compared to Beijing, and most of its development since the mid-nineteenth century has been driven and implemented by foreigners, specifically the British and French, who subdivided this part of China like so many chunks of cheese back in the day.
Shanghai has very little purpose except for business, and when I’m here, I feel that. The essence and spirit of Beijing, on the other hand, is totally different; it’s like trying to compare the Sphinx to a stone lion perched outside some bank.
Anyway, I went out for a nice evening stroll, which ended in a foot massage. One hour tonight, perhaps two hours tomorrow. You simply cannot buy a good massage in the USA, and if you can, then rolling in money you must be, because they are typically outrageously expensive. In China, not so much. There are massage parlors on every street corner, and while no doubt some of them are just a bit sleazy, for the most part these establishments are fairly clean and very professional. The girls also have fingers strong enough to crack walnuts with.
For those curious, here’s a nice interactive chart of the foot that shows what part of the body all those pressure points link up to. Man, I can feel things working out of my system, especially when they go after my sinuses—spots located at the base of each toe. Seriously, though, if you’re not used to this kind of thing, I have only one warning: the first time around, a good foot massage will hurt like a crocodile’s jaws crushing every one of your muscles and bones, followed by some endless internment inside a blender that ends at your ankles. You’ll sweat, you’ll scream, and you’ll need a tall glass of water—but it’ll do you good, and you’ll come limping back for more.