November 10, 2007

All het up

Filed under: asia,China,culture — Kim @ 6:08 pm

One of the great joys in life, I think, is having a sauna at the end of a hard day. If I could afford it, a sauna would be one of the first things I would install in my dream house.

A good sauna session can take almost an hour and should comprise 3 or 4 visits of about 10-15 minutes per time, and they should be punctuated by cold showers or -better- cold plunges so as to thoroughly clean those pores and get your pulse a-racing. And, of course, the heat is that much sweeter after a chilly shock.

And from the second visit on you should introduce some loyly to really savour the proper sauna experience. Loyly is what you get when you throw some water onto the heater and raise the humidity so as to get a tingly heat rush for a minute or so. You should repeat at regular intervals until you can take no more. But only, and here’s the rub, if you have the sauna to yourself or if you get the go ahead from everyone else in the sauna.

Now, I have sauna-d in many countries over the years and in all of them – bar one – there has been a sauna etiquette concerning the loyly. Basically, you should always ask your fellow swelterers whether it is ok to up the ante and chuck some water on the heater, because some of them might be uncomfortably hot already and want to stay at the same heat for a minute or two before they leave. It’s actually very rare for people to reject a loyly request, but I’ve known it happen and in any case it’s just the done thing to ask.

But in Dalian I have only ever been asked the once, and I nearly fell off the bench in surprise. At the risk of sounding insufferably holier-than-thou, I do still ask before I loyly up the room, but the (North-East) Chinese norm is just to do it and if others don’t like it, well then – they can leave.

And this used to annoy me, but I just shrug it off now, most of the time, and actually the loyly is almost always welcome for me…even though I prefer to save it for my second visit. But the other day I lost my rag a little and indulged in some petty (sweet) revenge. So, anyways, here’s the story…

I was on my own in the sauna at my gym at the tail end of the first visit when in walks a twenty something dude who totally ignores me, spits on the floor a couple of times, and then splashes a load of water on without so much as a glance in my direction. The room is really hot now and my hair is starting to sting from the humidity. The last 2 minutes of my stay has suddenly changed from comfy to hard-to-handle.

Mutter, mutter. Fuck. “Why didn’t he even look at me?” I think. I look at him and sigh and he ignores me. Right…I get up, go to the bucket, seize the ladle and start to splash more water on, and then I wait 5 seconds and put some more on…then again, then again, then again, and then I walk out.

I get into the shower nearest to the sauna and smile to myself. I have just loylied up the house to a very uncomfortable extent and I know that that guy has got to be dying in there, but if he left immediately he would lose face. Ah “face”, how do I despise thee? Let me count the ways.

After about 20 seconds I hear him stand up and pace about a bit. About 10 seconds later it sounds like he kicks something or punches the wall or, anyway, he is having a hard time in there. Ten more seconds and he’s out…bright red in the face… and as he staggers past he glares at me.

I turn away and totally ignore him.

I haven’t behaved so stroppily or vindictively in years! Honest! And although I think that guy probably got the message and although I felt quite smug at the time, I won’t do it again. Next time I will just tell whoever it is that I don’t want any more loyly and could they not put any more on.

Someone’s got to set an example or we’ll all get het up and bang goes world peace.

This blog wants world peace. And you?

1 Comment

  1. Wow! Some people ask before loylying it up, others don’t. It sounds like China is a land of contrasts! Please write a blog post with that title.

    Comment by Sean — November 26, 2007 @ 11:51 am

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