With just a few short days left before we pack our bags and leave China, Craig and I have been busy trying to fit in all the stops we’ve missed. Yesterday this included trying cupping, a traditional Chinese massage practice that is supposed to remove the fire from your body and improve circulation but which mostly just left us with awesome circular welts all over our backs. For some reason Crank’s are a lot more badass than mine. Unfortunately for him, apparently impressive-looking bruises aren’t what the cuppers are looking for — they kept saying “bu hao, bu hao” (not good, not good) over and over to him while they were doing the cupping. We’re still not sure exactly what “not good” means, but so far he’s doing fine, aside from looking like he was savagely beaten with a baseball.
Cupping works by heating the inside of a round glass cup and then immediately placing it on the skin. There are a few different methods of heating the cups. Our therapists lit an alcohol-soaked cotton ball on fire and waved it inside the cup, briefly, warming the air inside. As this air cools it creates a strong suction against the skin that is supposed to be good for the health (I’ve heard it does everything from remove impurities to improve circulation to pull the anger from the body). An initial cupping is done on various parts of the back, and then judging by the color that your back turns the therapist will repeat the process and leave the cups on your back for a certain amount of time. The process itself is somewhere between painful and enjoyable, but I quite liked it in the end. Another exciting adventure, and something I would certainly try again.