A Fine Feeding Frenzy

There are many activities in Thailand/South East Asia that struck me as slightly bizarre when we still lived in Canada, but now seem quite normal. These include the habit of using a spoon and fork (but no knife) with meals, Thai women’s general disdain for the act of leg-shaving, and the widespread popularity of flesh eating fish in massage parlours. This last one is what I want to focus on today.

I remember reading an article in National Geographic before we left home. It featured de-mining efforts in Cambodia, and for some reason, one of the featured photographs was of two tourists indulging in a fish massage as they were serenaded by a war amputee. A strange mental image. While the article detailed Cambodia’s de-mining efforts with great pathos, I was riveted by the fish suckled to tourist flesh. After arriving here, however, I’ve discovered that it is a common tourist activity. Furthermore, I knew it was only a matter of time before Todd caved in and tried it. Fish massage has T-bone written all over it, because:

A) He loves eating strange things. In this case, it’s the fish that are eating “strange things,” but that’s good enough for him.

B) For some inexplicable reason, he actually enjoys the eerie feeling of ants crawling on his arms. From here it is a short skip and a hop to enjoying fish mowing down on his legs.

We visited Asiatique – a hot spot for upscale market items, eateries, and lady-boy cabaret shows – one evening, and when he saw the feisty fish frolicking there, he dove right in. He tried to convince me to join him, but I prefer to keep my epidermis where it belongs, thank-you-very-much.

The process began with a gentle scrub – probably to loosen the skin so the fish could get a better latch.*


He started off with a quick wash:

“How much should I scrub off?” “2 or 3 layers should do it.”

Prepping the main course…

Because maybe you needed a closer view…

And then it was off to the races!



So pumped.

“Hi little guys! You are just like birds of the sea!”

The armada amasses and then latches on.

So much food. So little time.

Totally blissed out. Todd loves feeding the hungry.

And one last close up. Check out the fish between his toes.

Turns out that National Geographic didn’t exaggerate – it was a totally riveting process. I’m still a little icked out, but T-bone is dreaming of his fish friends’ next meal…

* I might be making this up.