A Giant Glass Bulb is Suction-Cupped to My Foot

Before foot-cupping …

It’s as awful as it sounds.

Because we had so much time to kill, we opted for a foot massage in Harbin. Our tour guide located a local place for us to get massages, and we were processed by the front desk and walked upstairs to a huge room full of reclining massage chairs. Big, brown monstrosities that one got swallowed up in.

We waited for the masseuses to show up.

And waited.



Waited some more.

It was about an hour later when our five masseuses showed up with their tool box. Cue awkward question time. In Shanghai, since most massage places are so used to foreigners, they don’t ask much beyond where do I come from. To be fair, there aren’t many more questions that I can even answer. In Harbin, they wanted to know everything, but I couldn’t answer much more than a few basic questions.

At the end of the massage – a quite strong one, I remember – they get out these glass bulbs, light a match, heat it, and STICK IT ON THE ARCH OF YOUR FOOT.

Not only is cupping painful, it was also quite hot from the match. I like foot massages, but only because I mentally take myself to another world as someone is digging their knuckle into the arch of my foot. I hate the vulnerability of arches on feet. People step on things, and I wig out. This lady actually laughed at my face when I about went through the roof.

Find a happy place … find a happy place …

The bulb sucked the arch of my foot into it, and I had to find a happy place. It just felt – distinctly uncomfortable. Not relaxing at all. All of us were having various moments of “what the heck…” as the cups went on each of our feet. Unfortunately, one of mine fell off, and she reheated it and STUCK IT BACK ON, all with a cheerful smile.

I had red circles on my feet for four days.

It was traumatizing, and I didn’t get a foot massage for a month.

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