In Siem Reap, Cambodia there are almost as many fish pedicure places as there are Starbucks in Seattle. I had vaguely heard about these fishy massage parlors before I arrived in Asia and I was curious – but substantially less than eager – to give these piscine pedicurists a try. Intentionally paying for fish to bite my toes wasn’t the first thing on my mind but saturation marketing eventually had the best of me.
The sign that finally persuaded me said, “Dr. Fish: Have you ever gotten the super clean feet by Dr. Fishy? If our fish not make you happy we’ll not charge. Please feed our hungry fish your dead skin. If you want your feet feel like baby’s bottom please do it now.” A money-back guarantee and reassuringly there was another sign that said, “No Piranha”. Okay, enough already, I will do it.
The price for a fish pedicure at Doctor Fish was three dollars for twenty minutes; local can of beer included! It was a weird sensation having hundreds of carp (Garra rufa) chew the dead skin off of my feet. It tickled but in a marginally feel-good sort of way. It didn’t take long but after a few minutes the fish lost interest in my feet and went off to cavort by themselves in the nether regions of the tank. After about ten minutes my beer was hot and I began to lose interest too.
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My feet did feel marginally smoother but, like a baby’s bottom? I really have no way to make the comparison. I definitely doubt it. I guess overall the fish did make me happy enough and I paid the price of admission. Would I do it again? Probably not as a solo experience but if a friend wanted to give it a try but was hesitant; I would probably lead the way. Maybe. At least now I know from experience what a fish pedicure and what Doctor Fish is all about.