Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday Weirdness: Siem Reap Pedicure

The Siem Reap Art Center is one of Siem Reap's many night markets. Being a philistine, the only painting I got there was on my toes.

Self portrait.
I hate manicures. Pathologically. The only time I really lost it during my wedding planning (family and friends, correct me if I'm missing anything) was after I went for my manicure and had a hysterical fit in the car on the way home. Sitting still waiting for the stupid thing to dry drives me completely insane. I get twitchy and feel this horrible frustrated pressure building up behind my eyeballs. You can't do anything until it's dry, and the only way to know if it's dry is to touch it, and of course you are ALWAYS WRONG. No touched manicure is ever dry. It is the First Universal Law of Manicures. The Second Universal Law of Manicures is that you will chip a nail on the way out of the parking lot.

But pedicures are kind of nice. To me, painted toes seem whimsical, whereas manicures just make me feel high-maintenance. I would probably get them more if they weren't stupid-expensive: given the choice between a $45 pedicure and $45 worth of just about anything else, I'll paint the darn toes myself.

At the Siem Reap Art Market, however, I saw a sign advertising a $4 pedicure. Now that's my kind of price range! Things seemed clean, but just to be on the safe side, I stayed away from having my skin trimmed. Just the old soak, lotion, nail trim, and polish.

In Cambodia, they soak your feet in a bucket with fresh lime slices. I felt like a margarita.
Other people, however, had no squeamishness whatsoever. In the distance beyond my feet, in the greenish tank, you can see foot-nibbling Doctor Fish.

Also pictured: the family cankles
There are tons of these in downtown Siem Reap. You pay however much money to sit for a fixed period of time (usually something like $5 for 20 minutes, or something) and stick your feet in. The fish then eat your dead skin. The hygiene of this practice is debated in the US and UK, where this is often illegal. I didn't do it in Cambodia. Partly, that's because of the green water (forget sterilizing the fish... when did someone last clean that tank?) but mostly it was because I got nibbled on in the wild at Honda Bay in the Philippines, and now I'm a snob about free-range fish.

Bonus fun fact: I tipped $1 on my $4 pedicure. The pedicure ladies probably did not expect a tip from me, but I'm sure they hoped. Tipping is not really a thing in Asia, or at least it wasn't until Americans showed up and started tipping people, and now it is expected that you will tip certain people, like your tour guide. Apparently the Aussies hate us for it.


  1. Forget the cankles, at least you have toes and real feet.


  2. Re: the fish. Just another example of the government trying to save us from ourselves and failing.