(Not quite) enjoying a fish foot spa in Kuala Lumpur!

Fish foot spas were all the range in the UK a few years ago. The idea is that you sit with your feet submerged in a water tank, full of Garra Rufa fish (otherwise known as Doctor fish), which then nibble away at any dead or dried skin on your feet; effectively giving you a good pedicure.IMG_6738

Suddenly though, there were all these concerns about hygiene: The Daily Mail warned that could people catch HIV and Hepatitis via the fish. People were asking: how could the fish be disinfected after their work was done? Is it considered animal cruelty to bleach fish? Would athletes foot suddenly become epidemic, even amongst those not sport-inclined? I don’t think the answers could be found to these questions, so in the UK, most fish spas closed down.

However, here in Asia, where health and hygiene standards are slightly more, er. relaxed, they are still all the rage.

After wearing flip-flops every day for the past 3 months and having suffered from several episodes of ‘Thai-toe’ (a badly stubbed toe, which is a regular and unfortunate occurrence when wearing flip-flops on the many uneven pavements in Asia), my feet needed sorting out. And I took comfort in the fact that it was reported that Amy Childs and ‘Arg’ from The Only Way is Essex both enjoyed Fish Spas when they were introduced a few years ago in the UK, and as far as I am aware, they are both still alive and well and not dying from a verruca-related disorder. And finally, this wasn’t something the Thai Travel Clinic warned us about….

So I decided to go for it. Ruben and Rosie wanted to join in too. It was 10Rm (£2) for 15 minutes and there were a few people in the ‘spa’ sat looking serenely relaxed whilst their feet were ‘fixed’ by the fish. What a great way to enjoy some peace and quiet from the heat, hustle and bustle out on the streets of Kuala Lumpur!

Then we dunked our feet in… and screamed! It was the weirdest and most horrible feeling in the world. My feet must be minging, as almost every fish in the tank began their feast on MY FEET! I totally freaked out and lifted my feet so fast out of the tank, that I strained my leg and ab muscles in doing so! Having watched this drama, the kids were then too afraid to put their feet in- “Go on mum! You do it again…”.To scared to put our feet in!

Aaron stood watching us from dry land, looking unimpressed at the spectacle we were creating. Ruben and I managed to put our heels in – Ruben for just a few seconds at a time, before yelping and quickly retreating! We just couldn’t stop laughing. Rosie just sat with her feet curled carefully under her, going nowhere near the water, and very much enjoying seeing Ruben and I squirming!

Aaron reminded us that time was running out.  Did I want soft feet and a communicable disease or would I have to get a tattoo back in Thailand to get this kind of thrill? It was now or never. Finally, with jaw clenched, Ruben and I gripped hands tightly and bravely lowered our feet, stifling our nervous yelps as we endured a final few minutes of fish spa, before our time was up.

My verdict? My feet certainly were softer after the visit. Was it relaxing? Nope. Has there been evidence of communicable disease? None so far.

As we walked past the spa later on, we enjoyed seeing some Chinese guys screaming loudly as they put their feet in, so we weren’t the only scaredy-cats!

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