Thursday, August 9, 2007
A colleague asked me if I wanted to be nibbled by fish.
All she knew was that you sit in a wading pool and these little fish nibble dead skin off your body. A man's dead skin is a fish's meal.
It was too intriguing to pass up so I went.
It's in a swimming resort area outside the Fifth Ring Road called Xiedao Sea Recreation Center. It's a giant compound complete with an outdoor water park, an indoor one with a 50-metre pool, hot tubs and the fish nibbling, a conference centre and restaurants.
The admission to the indoor pool area was 38RMB, and to be nibbled by fish was an extra 48RMB.
We were then instructed to give our shoes to an attendant who supplied plastic slippers to us and then we were led to the changing rooms and given a locker key. After donning our bathing suits and a quick shower to rinse off, we headed to become the main event.
Another person led us to a relatively large circular kind of hot tub with shallow water. And lo and behold there were the little fishies, called tou'er qi. They're almost two inches long and ready for nibbling.
We gingerly stepped in and the attendant encouraged us to sit at the bottom. But we had to get used to it first.
The fish swarmed our legs and we immediately felt this crazy stinging sensation. It wasn't sharp pain, but as if there were little dull needles were gently jabbing us. And couldn't help but laugh because it was such a strange feeling being eaten by little fish.
We eventually lowered ourselves down so that they could cover more ground. And they were totally focused on nibbling us everywhere, from our backs and legs, arms, hands and even the soles of our feet. It was especially ticklish in the armpit area and I had to shoo them away.
We sat there until our fingers turned into prunes, for over an hour. And the fish didn't stop at all. They kept nibbling us -- or as the Chinese like to say, kissing our skin. I'm wondering if we have microscopic hickeys all over us.
In the end we couldn't decide if we felt exfoliated by all that nibbling. It was definitely not a relaxing experience, but an interesting one. Afterwards, we soaked in a warm hot tub which made up for the tingling sensation from the fish.
The only downside to the place is that the staff don't help you get a taxi so you have to walk so far to get to a major street to flag one down.
Other than that it was well worth trying a nibbling sensation.
Beijing Xiedao Sea Recreation Center
No. 1, Xiedao Road