Sunday, 23 March 2008

Massages and Genji Japanese restaurant

Sunday 16 March - Genji Restaurant

A week ago we had our fortnightly massage at the place we always go to. Once again we have very interesting conversations with our masseuses (that word looks funny typed out). Hubby's Mandarin is getting better and can have a decent conversation with them too although I still need to translate a few things for him, and also I don't understand everything they say myself!

They are interested to learn about our lives back in Australia and we are interested in learning about theirs.

We pay 60 RMB for a 1 hour massage (either full body or foot (which also includes a back massage done sitting up)). From this they are paid a measley 16 RMB per hour (that's around $2.50) but they get an extra 5 RMB if we specifically ask for their number. Ones that we like are 8,16,17,27,37. Every time our list of numbers just grows because often we can't ge the one we want, then we realise we are pretty happy with the new person/people we get! Maybe it's because I'm not so fussy but maybe it's because I realise that back home in Australia it costs more like $60-90/hour for a massage and they aren't nearly as good.

I also learn that they work 12 hours, every day of the year. They are allowed to take time off (most will take a couple of days off during Chinese New Year only though) but choose not to because they are so hard-working and intent on making more money. However, they don't actually work for all of those 12 hours. (they work in shifts either 10am-10pm, 12noon-12midnight or 2pm-2am). Usually they only work 5-6 hours but they still have to be there in case they are called upon. During their time off they hang out in a little room next door where they either watch tv, play mahjong or sleep. The guy I spoke to (no. 27) says it's really quite boring and he doesn't like it because he's sitting there and not getting paid.

Most people have horrible calluses and protrusions growing on their knuckles from using their knuckles so much. They say it doesn't hurt anymore once it gets to a certain stage.

While they were telling us their 'stories' I almost felt like crying. Well, I was crying on the inside. That they work so hard, and make so little money, and they still seem so happy, cheerful and cooperative.

Hubby got a lady, no. 37 last week. We hadn't seen her before but she's seen hubby plenty of times. Mostly because he is tall and fair-haired and stands out easily amongst the sea of black-haired people! (most customers are Japanese). At 30, she would be one of the older staff members although she is still younger than me! She has a 4 year old son, who lives with her inlaws (as is the case with all traditional Chinese families). She says she misses him heaps but what can you do?

All of the staff members come from poor country towns and different provinces, noone is actually from Shanghai. The scary thing is that although the pay seems so low to us, the pay in Shanghai is actually the highest in the whole country! (Shanghai also has the highest cost of living, even moreso than Beijing). No. 27 - the guy I've had 3 times now says he is 25 and already feels a bit 'old' because he's not married yet and most of his friends are. Most of these country people marry in their late teens or early 20's and have had at least one kid by the age of 25 or by 29 at least. Also, in the country they can get away with having more than one child, especially if the first is a girl.

If only all of us Western brats (and yes I admit I am one) could learn something from these poor hardworking people who have hardly anything...

Congen Massage Healthcare Club

兴义店 - 兴义路48号新世纪广场1F

XinYi Branch - 1F, New World/Hong Kong Plaza, 48 XinYi Road

(they also have branches in Gubei, Jing'an, Pudong, etc..)

Ph: (021) 6209 3813 / 6209 6615

OK onto dinner!

Instead of going to our usual place we tried a new one. This place is usually very full but we never went in because it was usually full of lots of smoking Japanese men. Erk. I HATE SMOKERS! Anyway for some strange reason it was kind of empty so we decided to give it a try.

The waitress asked us if we wanted ala carte or buffet. We weren't sure but decided to go for the buffet. Of course the Chinese/accountant side of me took over and I had to calculate if we were getting our money's worth. The Japanese buffet offered here (and at many other places) isn't like Sizzler's or your typical buffet. It's still ala carte (in that you have to order off a menu) but you can get as much as you like!

It was 145 RMB per person and we ended up eating about 450-500 RMB's worth. So a total bargain! We totally stuffed ourself with as much as we could take. It also included as much tea, coffee, juice, water or beer as we wanted. Anyway enough about the rave, on with the details!




48 Xinyi Road, Hongqiao (next to the massage parlour)

(also at 1414 Huaihai Middle Road)

Ph: (021) 6208 7910

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