Saturday, November 02, 2013

Travelogue: Fish spa

Temptations are hard to fight; and they say that one way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it! But it’s very likely that you will regret it later. As we passed down Walking Street I wondered how many people had yielded to their temptations; how many people had Walking Street conquered?

The street is not as jam packed as the most famous street in Chennai but it comes close. As you cross the midway mark the crowd starts to thin out. Towards the end of the street there was an Indian pub playing Bollywood music; there were many playing music so loud that we could feel the beats outside. And further beyond this there was a pier (a platform extending over the shore into the sea with a few boats tied to it). Veggie friend and I spent quite a while sitting on the small wall that extended across the pier. There were a few folks on the opposite side enjoying a drink; a few meters away a few young adult Asians were huddled in a group enjoying jokes – most people had a drink in their hand.

It was around 1am when we took the return walk down Walking Street. On the way we saw a Fish Spa – it is very popular in Thailand. Look out for durations of 15 or 20 minutes because doing 30 minutes to 60 minutes will be boring and also more costly. In a fish spa you will have large glass boxes filled with water and plenty of small fish. Next to the box is a bench; you sit on the bench and with a slightly wet towel your legs below the knee level will be scrubbed to ensure there is no dirt. Then you dip your legs up to knee level in the water. And what follows is one of the weirdest sensations that you will experience – ticklish, tingling and a little worrying when you see all those little fish attacking your legs. Along with the two of us, there were two foreigners who took a dip (each person gets a separate glass box). Both of them screamed and pulled out their legs two seconds after dipping it in. Aided by the shop assistants they tried once again by slowly lowering their legs – they made funny expressions and held up for 2 minutes before resigning! Once you get over the first couple of minutes you can relax – you get used to the strange sensation and the concept of fish eating humans for a change.

The fish are called ‘doctor fish’ and they eat the dead skin on your leg; there are claims and counter-claims over health benefits. There are also concerns about infection spreading through water since the water isn’t cleaned after each customer dips their legs – when we put our legs we really didn’t know about any of this!

Veggie friend bought a cowboy type hat in Walking Street for the cheapest price we had seen in Thailand. The Thai girl who sold it to us was extremely grateful and thankful – this shop was near the end of the street and I don’t think they would have got many customers. 

It was nearing 3am when we hit the bed back in our hotel room.

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