The last time we were in Singapore we went to the Singapore Flyer which is a sort of giant ferris wheel that gives amazing views of the city. It is very similar to the London Eye. A good way to get a bird’s eye view of the city. We got there, saw the ticket price of $29.50 Singapore Dollars (about US$21.00), and decided that we did not really need the ride. We did not feel that we needed to see the city from on high. So we wandered about the area and found some shops. Only one seemed to be of interest. A Fish Spa, or so the sign said. Since a fish massage was new to us, we explored a bit further.
In the shop we found a few rows of aquarium like tanks in front of raised wooden benches. The idea, we soon learned, was to sit on the benches and dangle your legs (with your pants neatly rolled up above your knees) into the water. We watched with wide grins as a fair number of people sat there with their legs submerged.
A closer look revealed that each leg was surrounded by scores of tiny fish. Each fish couldn’t have been longer than an inch. These dark colored fish were smaller than the goldfish that kids sometimes win at county fairs. The fish were eating the dead skin and callouses off of people’s legs and feet!
It turns out that these fish… Doctor Fish, I am told, have no teeth and nibble on dead skin. Corns, healing scabs, eczema, dry skin, and so on become a fishy banquet!
After a few minutes of watching we entered the world of “why not?”. For only $10 Singapore Dollars (about US$7.10) we could feed dozens of hungry fish for ten minutes. As it turned out, the shop keeper didn’t keep good time, and we spent almost twenty minutes in the water.
With our shoes and socks neatly put away in provided cubby holes and our pants rolled up above the knee, we made our way to the tanks. Once comfortable, our feet were lowered into the tepid water. We were giggling the entire time. We watched the water as we waited with our feet dangling.
In no time the fish detected our presence, and a few rushed over for a taste. It was a curious sensation. At first it tickled. Every so often a fish would pull on leg hair. The feeling bounced back and forth from tickle to pull. Then the crowd arrived. At first our legs were treated by a few fish. That number grew quickly until our legs were virtually covered with the critters. The touch from the fish as they swam about for a better position added yet another tactile sensation.
After our time was up we left the tank, rinsed off our legs and checked ourselves. After we verified that all ten toes remained intact, we were surprised to discover how smooth our legs and feet were. We were told that the nibble action from the fish also promotes good blood flow. While I don’t know if that is true, we agreed that we would do it again.
As luck would have it, we had another chance. The same company had a spa at the Singapore airport. It was $20 Singapore Dollars for twenty minutes, but we had the time. And, after all, we were old pros at this now!
Sadly, once back home we discovered that fish massages are not readily available in the United States. The reason? We’re not sure. Some have suggested that the entire concept is too strange for most Americans. Maybe. Our guess is that various building and health codes make opening a fish spa too complex and costly.
So maybe you’ll just have to wait until your next trip to Singapore to get your own fish tale to tell.