Post image for Video: A fishy foot massage in Malaysia

Video: A fishy foot massage in Malaysia

by Michael on January 26, 2012

Imagine having hundreds of fish nibbling at your toes underneath a giant sign that assuredly proclaims “No Piranha.” Now picture your feet are in a tank with about a dozen other feet that are also being nibbled on.

Larissa normally loves seeking out relaxing massages but turned up her nose, or more properly her toes, at this fish pedicure. Michael, who has the world’s most ticklish feet (he seriously does, he can’t even get a shoe shine because he giggles like a tween girl at a Justin Bieber sighting) also opted out.

The stated therapeutic qualities of a fish pedicure are that the toothless “garra rufa,” also known as doctor fish, massage and nibble at your feet and remove dead skin. But it’s probably a good thing that we didn’t jump in with both feet.

The treatment, which is popular throughout Asia, is coming under increased scrutiny from health authorities worldwide. The Health Protection Agency in the United Kingdom has warned that the practice could spread HIV and Hepatitis C. Some states in the US have already banned the practice. 

But that hasn’t stopped the people in this video from getting their feet massaged by little fish at the Central Market in Kuala Lumpur. Be warned though, one lady is a screamer:


Pete January 28, 2012 at 12:45 am

I think I probably speak for many when I say, “Ewwwwwww!” Gross.

Of course, now I have one thing more to worry about in life, namely the idea that I will do enough bad things in this life to come back in the next life as one of these poor fish. I’m sure the “gara rufa” or “toe-a chew-a” or whatever they’re called are perfectly fine as a species and all, out frolicking in the ocean chewing on the occasional wayward toe of an ocean adventurer (who probably all have well-toned, shapely toes anyway). But just my luck I’d be one of these poor shopping-mall fish destined for a life of sucking on nasty tourist toes and even worse, squared-off, yellowed, wingtip-scarred middle-aged businessman’s toes. Ugly, gnarly ones. Basically, like mine (although I am proud to say I have not yet let an actual wingtip smother my feet…).

And thank you for the fact that now every time I see a picture of Justin Bieber I will think of Michael’s toes…which is probably at least a push. Just better hope his bieberness never does a cover version of “Popsicle Toes”…

Us January 28, 2012 at 2:31 am

Sorry we ruined Justin Bieber for you. We hope you find a suitable replacement.

Mar January 28, 2012 at 9:51 am

No way would I put my precious tootsies in a tank with perfect stranger,let alone with fish nibbling those stanger’s toes and then mine.
I am even leery of going to the podiatrist unless it is the first appointment in the week. And they put a brown smelly disinfectant in the water first. You were both wise to pass this experience by, but I am glad you told us what happens. Saves me the trip.

Us January 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm

We agree, it seemed icky. But it was still fun to watch. Thanks for the tip about the podiatrist, by the way 🙂

MissElaineous January 29, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Toes…smelling fishy? Fish…smelling toesy? Either way…way, yuck! However, I must confess. I know a Labrador who finds it quite necessary to continue “the cleanse” once I’m out of the shower. No limb is safe from that sandpaper tongue and hence the need for one of those really giant bath sheet towels to fend him off. So I guess I’m the pot calling the kettle black in my judgement of Malaysian foot therapy. Or maybe its just another kettle of fish.

Us January 30, 2012 at 11:01 am

Maybe you should try it, for the halibut.

Richard Needham January 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I plead guilty to having subjected my toes to this treatment (and many other parts of the body as well; once the fish find you, any body part is fair game) in Hainan Province, China, at a resort hotel late in the evening. It was a little wierd at first and then rather pleasant. It was great for jet lag; whether through the fish or the series of hot/cold pools afterwards I had a great sleep afterwards. I was back the second night, and the third…

Us January 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Thanks for an alternate perspective. Perhaps it’s a more pleasant (and potentially more hygienic) experience at a nice resort, rather than at a touristy market. I think we’ve heard enough about the other body parts, however. . .

. . . by the way, I hope you liked your debut in the Little Rocky video!

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