After walking 34,148 steps and climbing 61 flights of stairs in hilly Old Town Central, I am primed for my Oriental Essence Massage at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Central. (The world’s longest covered outdoor escalator is in this neighbourhood, but I only rode it once.) Before the treatment, I take a dip in the pool, which has an entrancing soundtrack playing on its underwater sound system.
At one end of the room, there’s a hypnotic film of jellyfish moving in slow-mo. The ceiling is mirrored, so while I’m doing the backstroke, I have this soothing out-of-body experience when I catch glimpses of myself floating by. There’s just enough time to hit the cinnamon-scented Chinese steam room before submitting my tired limbs to Angel—yes, that is my therapist’s name.
“I didn’t know what my name meant,” she laughs, when I suggest that her name is very apropos. “I opened the dictionary and chose an English name that started with ‘A’ and was easy to pronounce.” In addition to her massage moves, Angel asks if I want to be cupped. Cupping involves having glass jars that have been heated applied to your body. (The heat lowers the pressure in the glass, which creates a suction effect when it’s placed on the skin.)
It’s believed to improve blood flow to areas that are stiff and inflamed. “I love my city, but it’s go, go go!” says Angel as she gently twists one cup into place. “You need me time.” She positions 17 cups on my back; while it sounds and feels like a school of carp fish sucking on my back, the gentle pulling sensation is utterly satisfying. When I later catch a glimpse of my “Hong Kong hickeys,” I take a deep breath and smile.