The Doctor Fish staff stands behind its service. Each fish massage comes with a 'Happiness' guarantee. No happiness, no charge. Free cans of Angkor Beer help the cause. Liz and I surrendered five dollars.
The fish massage is built on a simple premise: Tourists will try anything. After three days in Cambodia, I'd proved to be a good consumer. My inhibitions slackened and appetite expanded. I chewed iridescent meat, swallowed squid tentacles, and ordered iced coffee in broken Khmer.
A fish massage reverses the roles. The consumer becomes the consumed, as swarms of fish suck the dead skin off wet feet. Fish will try anything. They nibble bunyons and blisters, athlete's foot and plantar warts. They ingest decrepit skin and it tickles.
Liz and I dominated the fish tank. Within seconds of submerging our feet, they were surrounded by wriggling crowds of fish. Three other pairs of feet braved the tank during our fifteen minutes of happiness, but they barely received a bite. Our feet were gourmet. All natural White meat. Authentic American cuisine.
The final few days of our trip, Doctor Fish became the defining metaphor for tourists in Cambodia: consumers getting consumed. Swarms of merchants and beggars, moto drivers and food vendors offering to massage our wallets and suck the dead Presidents from our feet. Our soles were tender when we returned home, and our wallet was empty.
This is Part 1 of 5 updates about a recent trip to Cambodia