When refering to the Chinese, P. J. O'Rourke once said that "no one can possibly know what dark and grotesque things pass through the minds of this hydra-headed racial anomaly which is, after all, more like a monstrous colony of flesh-crazed carpenter ants than a nation of rational men."
Having spend almost my entire adult life in Asia, I feel I've pretty much come to the point where I can pretty much understand the Chinese mentality, their peculiar political philosophy, their dangerous penchant for gambling and opiates as well as the collective masturbatory fantasies many young Chinese males seem to have for that coke-burned out, boney-assed, self-obsessed, dirty little American succubus named Paris Hilton.
The one thing though that I have yet to be able to comprehend is the bizarre fascination that the Chinese seem to have with feet. The inhuman and grotesque Chinese practice of foot binding seems to have given way in recent years to another "foot fetish" euphemistically known as the art of Chinese foot massage or "foot reflexology".
Visit to Bukit Bintang street in downtown Kuala Lumpur and you will find almost the entire street full of these foot massage shops complete with touts outside accosting the unsuspecting tourist as they walk by. It all seems so innocent, but as John Travolta's character clearly pointed out in the movie "Pulp Fiction" was that, while a foot massage may look innocent, there's really a lot more going on there and "That's what's so cool about it."
Unlike the Japanese who seem to derive their sexual pleasure from pulsating electronic "Hello Kitty" gadgets and the sniffing of highschool girl's undergarments, many of the Chinese as I was about to learn derive their pleasure from nothing more than the human foot.
Against my better judgement and for RM30 (about US8.75) I decided to give one of the more elaborate places a try. I was led in behind a curtain to the back room where I was told to sit and wait for an available masseuse. While I waited, an old Chinese lady came in and gave me a cup of reverse osmosis Oolong tea to sip while she washed my feet in a warm basin of water. After cleaning my feet she grinned and gave a pair of "biomagnetic slippers" to wear while I waited. The slippers had what appeared to be metal pellets in the soles and seemed reminicent of something you might see in a turn of the century Sears and Roebuck catalog. As I put the slippers on I began to realize that things were going to get really weird.
A few minutes later the masseuse would arrive an older Chinese woman equipped with what appeared to be some sort of stone implement that she would use to pummel the soles of my feet with for the next thirty minutes. The thought that she could possibly be deriving some perverted sexual pleasure by molesting my feet made it very difficult to relax. My protests were met with her incomprehensible mubbling about the health benefits of the "foot massage" and as I squirmed in agony from the pummeling she gave me a toothless satiated grin.
It's all over now and I'm not sure how I feel. I suppose I do have a bit of spring in my step and feel a bit more relaxed, but I fear the psychological scars might remain for life. It's not exactly my cup of tea, but if you are one who can relax and block in from your mind that you might be helping an older Chinese lady to "get off" then I suppose I could recommend it for the ummm... health benefits.