Foreign Fingers Part 1: Reflexology in Amsterdam

I should have just spent the $28 on more cheese.

I should have just spent the $28 on more cheese.

Some people say the best way to experience a city is through its food. Or its people. Or in Amsterdam’s case, its “empowered” prostitutes. While I agree with the first two, I prefer to swap out the third for low to mid-range spa services. In this first installment of a 3-part series on the topic, I’ll be reviewing a recent back-alley foot massage I paid too much money for in Amsterdam.

What: 30-minute Reflexology treatment

Where: Dong Xu Chinese Massage in Amsterdam’s Chinatown neighborhood

Price: €25 (about $28)

Never let an official-looking foot chart fool you…

So, for those of you who’ve never heard of reflexology, you are the target market for this establishment because they’re not doing it right. Reflexology is an ancient Chinese stress-relief technique that stems from the belief that every part of the body—from tongue to liver to ovaries—corresponds to a specific location on the bottom of your feet. By applying pressure to points on your feet, it is believed that the reflexologist can help rebalance your yin and yang, help your body release toxins, and generally make you feel super awesome and relaxed. You can have this done at pretty much any spa, and somewhere in every Chinatown on Earth. It bears mentioning that this is more than just a foot massage, it’s a specific pressure-point-touching sequence that people have to be trained to do.

What happened at the Dong?

Two therapists/ receptionists seated me and my friend in adjacent pedi chairs in the main room, then barked some words in broken Dutch, which we did not understand. The pricing was ambiguous because there were different prices for “hard” and “soft” touching, and we couldn’t really figure it out. My therapist spent the first 5 minutes arguing with an angry Australian dude who also did not understand the price situation. He had just received a full-body massage and looked in no way relaxed. I couldn’t decide if the disagreement was over the hard-soft discrepancy, or the fact that he had received a sub-par HJ. Who knows. They continued fighting until he slammed the door and left. My therapist sat back down by my feet and, a bit miffed, began rubbing my dogs only 1% better than my husband does when we watch GoT. This would have been okay if GoT had been playing, but, no dice. Throughout the treatment, the two therapists carried on a boisterous conversation in their native language (which was neither “relaxing” nor “peaceful”) and both of them paused several times to answer their respective cell phones for quick/ angry-sounding chats.

Worth it? No. Do not go here.