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Hearing The Call: A Mystery Made for Half of the Chinese Population

Part II

The first time I got The Call—at a hotel in coastal Qingdao—it took me off guard.

Someone knows my room phone number already? I thought, pleased with the surprise at my new-found celebrity.

But over time and numerous “no-thank-you’s” later, I learned that the calls were invariably offers for “massage” and not inquiries from rabid fans.

I learned the service was usually only found in slightly larger hotels—ones large enough to fit a “sauna center” to staff the requisite “misses.” But even a question as simple as how much it cost remained a mystery. I helped solve this mystery in Chongqing’s Hotel of Horrors.

David and I had arrived in this central Chinese capital late at night without hotel reservations, so we (regretfully) relied on a recommendation of the hotel service counter at the airport.

The unpleasant discoveries started in the lobby, which was a failed attempt at grandeur with fake marble and clocks displaying the obviously erroneous times of major cities around the world—obviously wrong because cities were different in intervals of 20-40 minutes.

Having taken our room key, David and I called the steel-door elevator to take us to our room. With a whir, the doors pulled open to reveal a carriage full of vomit.

“Let’s take the stairs,” I said.

Dangerously dark with black footprints that somehow managed to find their way halfway up the white-painted wall, the stairs were still more attractive than the vomit coaster ride.

We finally reached our dingy room. I sat down in the bathroom while David relaxed on the bed. Like clockwork, the phone rang.

“That’s the massage call!” I yelled from the bathroom. “Just tell them we don’t want it.”

Wei?” David said in his rising tone of inquiry as he picked up the receiver.

I waited through a slight pause.

Women bu xuyao, xiexie,” David said, declining the offer politely.

“Wait!” I yelled from the bathroom. “Ask how much!”

I was curious to get the answer to a nagging curiosity.

Deng yixia,” David said. Wait a moment.

Duoshao qian,” he asked, speaking the words how-much-money clearly and formally.

“200,” the woman replied.

Xiexie, haishi buyao,” David replied, moving to hang up the phone. Thanks, but I don’t want it.

“150!” the woman pleaded as David hung up the phone. “100!” she blurted out, dropping the price in half and mistaking his curiosity-fueled question as an insistence on pinching pennies.

Many are called, but—judging from the woman’s price-slashing—few choose, and even fewer know it can cost little more than $10.

Comments (1)


If it's "that" kind of massage, then 100 is probably only the price to get the "miss" up to the room for a certain amount of time. Prices for specific "services" rendered can then be negotiated from them.
Disclaimer: Not all hotels offer all services. Your results may vary.

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