Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fish Spas

A minor miracle occurred immediately after my last blog post. Erin came back to our room after her interview and suggested that we pretend to sleep. It worked. We slept for another four or five hours and it was after 9AM when we woke up! It was like we were normal people from this time zone. We'd finally left Kamchatka.

Then a minor catastrophe occurred in our professional lives, which will prevent us from doing any bike tours for the next few days. I don't want to talk about it.

Instead, let's talk about fish spas.

Erin and I have noticed two major changes in Chiang Mai since we were each last here more than 7 years ago. First, you can now easily find a decent cup of coffee here. You used to have a choice between instant coffee and no coffee. The U.N. must have air lifted several dozen espresso machines in a humanitarian mission to save these poor, coffee-starved people, because now there are coffee shops everywhere.

Second, there are now fish spas all over the place. I know what you're thinking, because that's what I thought too: a fish spa is somewhere a fish goes to get a back rub and then sit in a sauna for awhile, right?

Well, it turns out that's not quite it. A fish spa is somewhere humans go to soak their feet in an aquarium full of fish. And they pay money to do it.

We saw several of these beauties before we actually saw someone using one. But people do use them, like this guy, who was laughing as hard as we were.

I guess the fishies tickle your toes for you.

I am only scared of three things: fish, dogs and entropy. I find the idea of a fish spa simultaneously horrifying and terrifying. It's twhorrifying. The whole reason I'm reluctant to swim in a lake is that there are fish down there who might brush against my feet. And these people pay money to put their feet in a bucket of water because they're guaranteed that fish will touch their feet? It just doesn't make any sense. It's like deliberately owning a dog as a pet, or dancing just for the sake of dancing, even though you know you're decreasing the amount of order in the system and hastening the universe's inevitable heat death.

Western civilization has reached a new level of decadence. We now fly halfway around the world to eat banana pancakes, complain that the "English breakfast" isn't like it is back in England, and stick our feet into a pail containing the slimy sworn enemy of decency and progress: the fish.

141 years from the first American transcontinental railroad to this. 107 years from the first manned flight to fish spas. 122 years from the invention of pneumatic bicycle tires to fishy foot baths.

1911: Amundsen reaches the south pole.
2010: Norwegian tourist pays more money than it costs to get a nice meal and a beer to stick his feet in a bucket of fish.

1943: Jacques Cousteau pioneers the use of the aqua-lung, the first scuba gear.
2010: some French tourist decides to simplify the process by bringing the fish up here instead of battling them in the briny depths like Cousteau did.

This isn't just a case of fraternization with our fishy enemies; this is social entropy.


  1. The fishes are very small. Is that because the fishes ate too much of dead skin, maybe?

  2. i have to admit its gross yet very cool

  3. ya im totally with ya on that one

  4. umm...i have never seen that before

  5. ya i havent either

  6. i like to party

  7. ya party at your house tonight partay

  8. where is all the people it said the first to were from 2010