I got my chance to try one when I was exiled in Jakarta. I happened to be wondering around the Grand Indonesia mall with my Fulbrighter friend Megan. We had just had a delicious lunch when Megan asked, "What do you feel like doing now?" And I responded, "How about a fish spa?" Megan was a little dubious about the whole idea. A fish what?
So we walked over to the store and looked in the window. There were several large tanks with fish of varying sizes. A few people were sitting on cushioned seats next to the tanks with their feet dangling in the water. It looked harmless enough and Megan decided it would be fun to try after all. We inquired about the prices and then soon found ourselves having our feet washed in preparation.Then we sat on the cushioned seats and peered into the tank below. Gingerly we both lowered our feet in and were instantly swarmed by eager fish. Megan shrieked in surprise and then started giggling - nibbling fish are very ticklish!
A pamphlet we picked up on the way out provided a bit of background information on this whole phenomenon. Fish spas apparently started in Turkey and other parts of the Middle East hundreds of years ago and are now growing in popularity in Asia. The fish used for this, a member of the carp family called garra rufa, love to dine on dead skin....yum!
As the pamphlet puts it, "this fish acts like pumice stone, rubbing off the dead epidermis layer of the skin, and leaving behind baby-smooth skin. The feeling of the fish nibbling is highly relaxing and you will experience the sensation of "micro massage" to your skin. It stimulates the acupressure points of your body and regulates the nervous system to generate the sense of well being and healthy lifestyle."
I enjoyed the 20 minute foot therapy. It feels super ticklish for the first couple of minutes and then you sort of get used to it. It's a novel way to get your feet feeling smooth and pretty. However, even I am a little reluctant to try to the 45 minute full body fish spa that is advertised in the pamphlet...