So, I had been trying to talk myself into going to get my feet gnawed on by tiny fish for a long time. I was nervous about it for several reasons. I really didn’t want to go alone, but most of my friends were not interested in having their feet chewed. So I finally worked up the courage to go alone, and headed up to Gangnam, following directions I had found on the internet. Jokes on me, that cafe was closed. I took that to mean the universe was telling me not to go.
But I still wanted to. While in Insadong for the Lotus Lantern Festival we stood near a sign for Dr. Fish. It’s a bit further than Gangnam, but definitely worth it. Insadong is a great place to eat and shop- tons of restaurants, cafes, and independent craft shops.
Finally, four months later, I was talking to a friend about it, and she was also interested in going. That weekend we headed up to Seoul. We decided to start with the Dr. Fish, so we headed straight there. Thankfully, it was very easy to find, even though it had been four months since I saw the sign.
The Foot Shop is a national chain of pedicure/foot massage places. Not all of them have Dr. Fish, but luckily this one did. For the low cost of just 9,000Won you could have fish nibble off your dead skin.
Now. I said I was nervous for multiple reasons. Really only two.
1) Because the fish are alive, the water can’t really be sanitized. Which, I believe, is why it isn’t popular (or done at all?) in America. I’m not exactly sure about this. But, as a child that used to swim in a river, I figured my feet would be alright.
2) My feet are pretty ticklish, and I was very scared I would kick a fish, and kill it. This was the biggest fear I had going into the shop. I just didn’t want to kick a fish and then have it die. Luckily, upon entering, the whole place was very calming.
Everything was very straight forward- we paid, we were told to take off our shoes, and shown a little sink to wash our feet and then she gestured to the fishy pool. They weren’t the smallest fish. I had envisioned them as being smaller. They were intimidating, swimming around in the pool as we walked over.
In we went.
Pretty soon I had a ton of little fish nibbling on my feet. It did indeed feel bizarre. But not what I thought it would. It felt more like my feet were vibrating than ticklish/toothy. And I couldn’t tell if there was a particularly aggressive fish on the bottom of my foot, or if the bottom of the foot was just a little more sensitive than the rest. But occasionally, I could feel an extra strong nibble. More like a bite.
All in all, it was really fun. And my feet felt amazing afterwards. They honestly felt a little raw and tender. It was wonderful.
After the fish feeding, we went to feed ourselves, and then to O’sulloc Tea Cafe, which serves delicious, mostly green, tea from Jeju Island. I’m not a fan of green tea, so I wasn’t expecting to love the place. But if that wasn’t the best tea I’ve ever had in my life, I don’t know what was.
(Iced red papaya black tea- If you were wondering.) And my friend had the most beautiful tangerine green tea latte.
What a great day!
If you’re interested in going to The Foot Shop in Insadong, it is in a small alley across the main shopping street from Starbucks. The sign I have at the beginning of this post is on the main shopping street. Very easy to find.