I was fascinated when I recently read about the rage of fish spas operating in Malaysia. I have always been suckered into massages, reflexology, spa treatments and occasionally facials and manicures. A true metro-sexual in the making.
Upon reading the featured write up about this spa called 'The Sampuoton Fish Spa' located at Merchant Square in Tropicana, I called up for an appointment. This is a fish therapy concept spa and does treatment for the whole body.The treatment involves dipping your legs (and also the whole body) into a pool of fish where they will come nibble away your dead skin, allowing healthy skin to grow in its place. An interesting way of exfoliating, I thought. I arrived and was explained on the different treatments that was offered. (and obviously the different pricing). I chose the special promotion being offered at RM 182 which includes an hour of fish nibbling and another hour of Swedish massage. I was ushered into a lounge and must say that the ambience was nice with the cosy sofas and was offered some tea sipping. I loved the soothing Balinese gamelan playing in the background and I was taken back to my yesteryear's of Indonesia.
I changed into the trunks provided and was requested to take a shower without any soap before entering the pool. This is to remove all traces of chemicals or lotions that might be harmful to the fishes. The recommended treatment is an hour as it takes time for the skin to soften thus making it easier for the fishes to nibble off the skin. As I stepped into the pool, I was reminded of the movie, Piranhas where hundreds of fishes just came 'attacking'. I must admit that it was a bit traumatizing in the beginning.
These little fishes are called Garra Rufas and they are from Turkey. While in the pool, there is a large plasma television on the wall that brings you through an educational process. It taught me that these fishes are actually members of the carp family and was discovered in Turkey 'by accident'. A dog at that time injured it's leg and fell into the river and was nibbled upon by the fishes. The damaged skin and wound healed soon after, prompting the locals to try it as a healing discovery. The Garra Rufas exude an enzyme when they nibble which has medicinal benefits.
The actual process was quite pleasant. It felt ticklish the first ten minutes but the sensation slowly gave way to fascination as I looked at how these little fellas were nibbling away my dead skin. On that plasma screen, it also says that an hour of this nibbling is very therapeutic as you will only be thinking of the sensation rather than other worldly worries thus giving your mind a break.
I completed my therapy with a Swedish massage performed by a Japanese therapist. She spoke fluent English and was the only foreigner around. (the other therapist were all Malaysians).An evening of Turkish nibbling, Swedish pressure points with Japanese flavours - what more can I ask for?
Doctor Fish, wait for me. I will be back.
* My apologies for not being able to upload pictures.
For further information, please log on to http://en.wikipedia.org/Doctor_fish