Monday, January 24, 2011

Ichthyotherapy, or the one where fish eat my feet

Since I'd never been to Thailand before, I decided to spend a few extra days in Bangkok after the conference finished up.

I've been pretty lazy the last few days, spending a good amount of them sitting by the pool reading in between stuffing my face with all the foods I can't find in Beijing, but by evening, I'm ready for an adventure.

When I spotted a fish tank in the front of a nearby spa, I knew what had to be done. Some of my Korean friends have raved about these fish that eat off all your dead skin (I should add a gross disclaimer right about now). The thought of fish nibbling away at my feet freaks me out, but I've always been (disturbingly) fascinated by the prospect of such an elegant exfoliating solution.

So my friend Nate and I decided to take the "plunge" last night. For a paltry $4, we were able to stick our feet in this tank for 15 minutes. They have a 30 minute option, but I didn't think I could handle it.

I'll be straight up. That was possibly the longest 15 minutes of my life. There's nothing particularly painful about it all, but it's just kind of creepy and uncomfortable. The worst is when the fish go for between the toes, or nibble at the cuticle.

But don't get me wrong, I don't regret it. Especially now that my feet are silky smooth. Kind of. Actually I probably need hours more treatment for the little guys to eat away at all the calluses I've built up over the years.

Let me make this educational for you, since that's how I was raised.

I did a little bit of wiki-research to look up the name of the fish. Apparently they're called Doctor Fish. The scientific name is Garra Rufa, and in "non-medical contexts" (sounds ominous) the fish is called the reddish log sucker (even more ominous).

Apparently the 'treatment,' sometimes known as ichthyotherapy, is banned in several U.S. states because cosmetology regulations require "tools" to be discarded after use, but it's too expensive to throw away the fish after one use.

I try not to think about the sanitation of it all, though. Kind of creepy to think that some fish was just eating someone else's skin and now gets to eat yours...

Tune in next week when I kick things up a notch and try leeching and medieval bloodletting. Or maybe I'll go all the way and go for a shark massage.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bangkok Safe

You know how I said in my last post that my life was ridiculously boring? (which actually isn't that fair. Life in Beijing is very rarely boring, though often ridiculous. It's probably more accurate to say that life had been routinely interesting)

Things just took a turn for the un-routinely interesting.

I arrived in Bangkok last night to play bass at a conference that some of my close friends are attending. This is my first trip to Thailand, and so far, I've been having a fantastic experience.

I forget how much of a home Beijing has become for me until I'm in a truly foreign environment. Most people can communicate in English really well here, so language hasn't really been a problem, but it's the little unfamiliar things like having no clue what the currency is supposed to look like and getting confused about how much everything is worth. Or forgetting that they drive on the other side of the road and almost stepping into the street in the way of an oncoming tuk-tuk. Those remind me that I'm out of my element, and they remind me that these kinds of new experiences add a new dimension to life.

Bangkok is, of course, notorious, but it's also a really vibrant urban space that's got a lot going for it. I'm here until the 25th, so I'll try and check-in periodically with updates on life here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


M and I recently sent out a year-end letter, at the end of which we promised to post more often.

(On a more random note, have I ever mentioned how much I dislike the word "blog"? Not really sure why, but I think I believe that I'd blog more if it wasn't called blogging. And yes, I am aware of how absurd that sounds.)

So anyway, I've been trying to figure out what to post about, but the fact of the matter is, I feel like my life's been ridiculously boring lately.

Earlier today, while wandering around online, I stumbled across Sarah Lacy's interview with the CEO of a somewhat new startup called Klout. Honestly, Joe Fernandez's lengthy and unclear responses have me a little worried for the company, but I was intrigued enough to check out their site and see what my Klout score was.

It's basically a complex algorithm that measures what kind of reach one has on social media: Twitter, Facebook, etc. I scored an embarrassingly low 11/100. I can certainly chalk up my poor showing to the fact that living in China means that Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger are all blocked. But I spend most of my online time on a VPN, so that's not really an excuse.

To my credit, I'm actually trying to limit my reach. Recently, my personal Twitter account got linked to some posts I made for work, and now some of the aggregator sites have taken to retweeting my work posts with an @mention.

I still haven't quite figured out how I feel about that. I'd probably rather not have random readers perusing my resume on LinkedIn, or checking out pictures of me on Facebook. But, on the other hand, it's free publicity.

My privacy settings weren't really a huge issue when I was a 'virtual' nobody on the Internet. In fact, there was a certain exhibitionist thrill to the public aspect of early social media. I could tell the whole world what I had for breakfast, with nary a thought for who was listening (and whether they actually cared).

But that thrill's fading fast. M's going to be blogging more for her work too, so we're both left a little unclear about what this space, and others like it, will be for us in the future.

Obviously, we'd love more readers. There's a part of me (probably larger than I'd like to admit), that selfishly writes in order to be read.

But, I'm apprehensive about continuing to just fling content into cyberspace for any rando to read.

The bright side of all this is that, if my Klout score is any indication, I don't actually have to worry about too many people reading this.