I don’t usually let fish nibble at my feet, but a visit to a local beauty parlour or hairdresser is always on my travel itinerary.
While on assignment for Rough Guide at the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, I had time to kill between the Zoo closing and the Night Safari opening. Souvenir shops, bars and restaurants were all options, but it was the sign for the spa that interested me.
Spas,beauty parlours, hairdressers, and masseuses are not in the guide books, but I think they should be. They are a great way to connect with local people and experience local ways of doing things - believe me, haircuts are not the same around the world.
I’ve had a haircut outside the Taj Mahal, been scrubbed till I was pink in a Syrian Hammam, had blind massages, and even a haircut at a Singapore bus station where I ended up looking like a Hello Kitty character- Japanese style they told me. But never a fish foot spa.
While fish foot spas are not a Singaporean concept, Nancy who was working there told me the connection was because it was at a zoo. “You know you come to see animals, fish are animals too you know. This just like aquarium with benefits!”
The Kangal fish from the Middle East have tiny mouths which scrape against the dead skin on your feet like exfoliation. After a few days of pounding the hot streets of Singapore my feet needed love and I thought little kisses from hundreds of fish would be perfect.
My feet went in and they went out. My feet went in and I started shrieking. My feet came out again. It was nothing like little kisses from lots of little mouths. Those little fish where biting and tickling me. Nancy claimed the fish didn’t bite. "If they bite you, I will bite them” she said and to prove her point she got in with me. It didn’t really help. Hundreds of fish swarmed to her feet as if they were her offspring. She held my hand and tried to force my leg into the water. I was too ticklish, and somehow ridiculously frightened!
A fish foot spa definitely wasn’t my favourite, but still I can’t over recommend getting a haircut or a facial on your next trip. I am not talking about high-end spas at fancy hotels, I mean the dingy gaudy ones with posters of Britney Spears. Like at home, the ladies who work as hairdressers or beauticians are renowned for having a good chat. It is truly one of my favourite things to do while travelling, regardless of the disaster hairdos I have got.
Next on the list- a pedicure, those fish nibbled off my toenail polish!