Emily getting a big green facial.
I go to a place in Jingmei Night Market (景美夜市), on the southern end. It's just north of the part of the market that turns into food stands. It's a tiny place, divided half into massage/manicure (I think they do massage anyway) and half into beauty treatments - threading, facials, eyebrow shaping, permed eyelash curling etc.. They have a hilarious sign in English done up by their Indonesian friend with everything they offer. There are three chairs inside and three ladies on plastic benches with little carts. There's a curtain with two beds behind it, as well.
Yesterday's was quite a bit of fun - they threaded my peach fuzz 'stache which is a lot more painful than the usual threading I get on my neck - my friend was trying not to laugh with her peely-off mask still drying as I cried out...several creatively-worded phrases.
The little old lady doing it, of course, had no idea what I was saying and just smiled through the whole thing.
She then got to the sides of my face, where I have quite a bit of fuzz, and with no warning tore out a huge tract of it with the thread.
Her: "Hm. Good!"
First lady: "Foreigners have so much hair. That one always comes in for threading. Her facial hair is amazing."
Second lady: "Oooooh."
(Side note: I am in the middle of laser treatment for chin and neck hairs, because I'm part Armenian and Armenian women get whiskers).
I heard a buzzing sound and looked over at my friend.
From General Area of Friend: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Lady: "Mmm. So many blackheads. Where do foreigners get these blackheads? So, so many blackheads."
Another woman comes into the shop, which is in a market so we relax to sounds of the arcade games in the next shopfront jangling horrendous Japanese techno, and asks where the two women are.
Third woman: "They're in back, giving facials to these two foreigners."
Customer: "Foreigners? How cute!"
(she pulls back the curtain to see the two traumatized foreigners)
"Oh look! Foreign girls! They're so white! Adorable!"
Another shop lady comes in: "Oh, foreigners! Are they teachers?"
First lady: "This one is. That one is a BRIDE."
Second and third ladies and customer: "OOOOOH!!! A BRIDE!!!!"
Me, weakly: "Well, I work in Taiwan."
Ladies: "BRIDE!!" "Where is the wedding? Is he Taiwanese? When are you having babies?"
Me: "Uhhhh...USA, he's American too, not sure about having ba - bleeheheh"
(as a mud mask gets glommed onto my face)
Second lady: "So I guess they don't need the whitening treatment?"
First lady: "Nah. They're white enough. See?" (she then lifts the shirt of my friend to show off her pale English belly) "Totally white!"
Second lady: "Wow. That's really white."
New customer: "There are white girls in here?"
Friend, to me: "Did she just say I have a fat belly?"
Me: "No, she said you're really white. Like all over."
Friend: "OK, fair enough."
Ladies: "Yes! One of them's a BRIDE!"
Customer, opening curtain: "A BRIDE! Where's the wedding? Is he Taiwanese? When are you having babies? How old are you? Foreigners are so cute!"
(second lady comes over with a torture device, like pliers or tweezers but much scarier and starts popping zits)
I have to say I love this country - none of the above is really rude in Taiwanese culture, at least among older women, so I don't feel like I was treated rudely. It's just...what is. We had a good laugh over it, especially the one woman clucking approval as she yanked out huge swaths of facial fuzz. So don't take this as a bitch about anything - it's not!
...and my skin is cleaner than it's ever been, with two facials in three weeks. They do a good job, those sadistic old Asian ladies!
So, female expats and readers - I do recommend that if you want squeaky clean skin and don't mind all the hilarity that you head down to one of these places (they're not a chain or anything but there's usually one in every night market) for a treat. It's not even expensive, plus you'll have a great story to tell your friends. It's especially useful in Taiwan where the humidity, sweat, sun and pollution can do a number on your skin.
*most of the dialogue here was in Chinese or Taiwanese, I put it in English for your benefit