The wording of this task is very important. Notice it does not say “get” a massage. I figured it would be too difficult for most people to get an appointment the same day as the challenge, but scheduling one would be no problem … except for me.
Unfortunately, I sort of failed at this task because the language barrier made it impossible for me to call ahead. Instead, I decided I would try to get a walk-in appointment on Wednesday. Since I’m two days behind on my posts, today just happens to be Wednesday.
I’ve been dying to get a massage, but my busy schedule has made it difficult, so I promised myself that, no matter what, I would go to a little place my friend recommended.
When I arrived, two girls in high-school uniforms were sitting in a small room watching TV. As I scanned the establishment, I noticed an appointment desk and a couple of rooms that looked like they might contain massage tables, but it was hard to be sure. I mimed a massaging motion and asked, “massage here?”
They gave me a confused look, so I tried again. This time, lightbulbs appeared over their heads and they nodded yes. They then proceeded to explain something I couldn’t understand while pointing toward the street.
Now it was my turn to look confused.
They repeated their words and motions, but my lightbulb never came on, so we stood there helplessly looking at each other for a good minute until one of the girls motioned for me to sit down. I walked over to the white bamboo couch, pointed to it and asked, “Wait?”
One of the girls nodded enthusiastically, “Yes, okay.”
I had no idea what or who I was waiting for, or for how long, but I sat down anyway. Living in a foreign country forces you to embrace the fact that you’re going to be clueless most of the time.
The girls sat down as well and continued what they were doing before I arrived: Watching TV and making a tomato smoothie. I feigned interest in a Korean game show I couldn’t understand and glanced intermittently at the girls as they mixed cherry tomatoes, milk and honey in one of those bullet blenders.
A few minutes later, one of the girls handed me a cup and said, “Tomato juice,” in English.
I took it, said thank you in Korean, and began to drink. If you’ve never had a tomato smoothie, you should try one. It’s way different than you’d expect, but quite delicious.
I sipped my smoothie, tried to decipher what was happening on TV and waited. About 10 minutes passed before I turned to the girls and asked, in Korean, “Ten minutes? Five minutes?”
They looked at each other with concern and said it would be 10 minutes, but I had a feeling it would be longer. The game show ended and was replaced by a drama which was replaced by a dating show.
Finally, the mother/masseuse/business owner returned from wherever she had been. With broken English and a tiny bit of Korean we communicated that I could not get a massage today, but that I could make an appointment for next Wednesday.
And so, with a bit of patience and a surprisingly relaxing time hanging out in a stranger’s parlor, I have completed this challenge. Now I can look forward to my upcoming 1.5-hour massage/facial — for only $40! Woo hoo!
Have you scheduled your massage yet?
For some insight into what it’s like to get a massage in Korea, check out this post.
If you’re like my dad, you “don’t do” massages, but maybe you will after you read this Newsweek article on the Five Surprising Benefits of Massage.
To see what’s coming up, check the 30-day Challenge List.