One of the highlights of our time in Bangkok was a fish ‘foot massage’ where tiny fish eat the dead skin off of your feet. I now have reservations about this practice (are the fish underfed to make them interested?) but at the time, we thought this was hilarious. Here are our reflections on 7 January 2011.Thailand is known for good, cheap massages. It’s one of the first things mentioned in any guidebook, and read a single article on Thailand and you’re guaranteed to read about a spa offering traditional Thai massage. Thai massage is much different from what we’re used to – it’s very physical, the masseuse will stand or kneel on your back, they use their knuckles to dig into the bottom of your feet, etc. BUT, here they’re ubiquitous and cheap, so we figured we should check it off our list.
We settled on a spa located in a backpackers’ guesthouse (they’re called ‘guesthouses’ loosely – usually they have a hotel, several restaurants, a spa, internet café, etc.) because we were able to get two massages for about $15 total. Also, this spa had an added spectacle – a huge fish tank where you dunk your feet and little minnow-like fish eat the dead skin off your feet. We had to try it.
The massage was intense as expected, but let’s discuss the fish because that’s why you’re all continuing to read this, correct? It feels really, REALLY weird to have fish sucking on your feet – kinda like leeches (if you could feel those…), kinda like hundreds of little bugs if you were to stick your feet in a pile of them. It doesn’t hurt, but does tickle, and mostly feels unlike anything we’ve ever felt.
So, did it work? I think my feet felt softer post-fish, though it might have helped having my feet soaking in water for 10 minutes. I did notice that the area of my leg where the fish had feasted was a little paler than the rest of my leg – could they have eaten away some of the dead skin that was helping turn my pasty skin a less pasty white color?In the end, this was an experience for the books.