Alex and Chickpea Do Korea

Welcome to Korea: Another Sunday, another tub of fish eating your foot’s dead skin

Yes, that’s right. We’ve really been enjoying the bounty of seafood that Korea has to offer, from live octopus to giant clams, fish and squid in various states of dessication and more. So, Alex and I decided to give a little back: We went to Doctor Fish.

These are tiny fish — a little bigger than a minnow, maybe? — that eat the dead skin off your feet. It was originally used to treat eczema and other skin problems, but now it’s mostly used as a spa treatment. I’ve been wanting to try this this I came to Korea (If I’m being honest, since I saw it on the Tyra Show a couple years ago. Full disclosure).

On Sunday, I found  Namu Story, (for Korea peeps: it’s across from the UniQlo in downtown Daegu) and convinced Alex to go with me. Just as interesting as the experience itself is where the Doctor Fish are: in a a big cafe. Yes, a tank of fish sunk into a raised platform at one end of a large, posh, second-story cafe. So while people are drinking their coffee and eating their pastries, Alex and I (okay, mostly me) were giggling in a corner while tickly little fish ate dead skin off our feet. I thought it would take a while to get used to, but in a matter of minutes I was able to stop laughing and enjoy. It’s like a little massage!

The best part is this: there’s a $3 entrance fee to get into the cafe, but it’s all-you-can-eat croissants and coffee, and the Doctor Fish treatment is less than $2. It was a great way to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

UPDATE (3/8/11): Namu Story, the coffeeshop where we first experienced Dr. Fish, is no longer offering the service. Check back here for updates on other nearby Dr. Fish proprietors.

It’s even more entertaining because no matter where I go in a city of nearly 3 million people, I always run into my students! Potential teachers, beware: there are hundreds of spies staked out across the city, waiting for you make one false move. The girls I saw at the cafe could not stop giggling. They think it’s hilarious to see “Franki Teacher” outside of school. Then they want to take my picture on their fancy phones. It’s weird, but they’re cute.

Some of my students also came over to my house last weekend. I told them they could come Trick-or-Treat at my house (Koreans don’t celebrate Halloween, so I figured this would be fun for them). I gave them some American candy, which they go crazy for. Then, we snacked — unfortunately, chocolate chip cookies and chips and salsa were the best I could do, but they were happy. We played some card games, watched a Korean game show (yes, they’re equally crazy as their Japanese counterparts) and went shopping. My students are so sweet — they even came bearing gifts of cakes and juice as a “thank you” for inviting them over.

The same girls are in my after school conversation class, which ended today. This was a surprise to me — my co-teacher told me it lasted through the end of the year! The class ending is bittersweet, since it means less work, but I’ve gotten close to several of my haksaeng (students). When class ended, I took them out for pizza, which was fun because 18 students and I were all crammed into a tiny little local pizza place (oddly named “Bike Pizza”). The proprietor looked very frazzled and confused!

Last Saturday, we hung out with some of our new friends, who took us to a kalbi restaurant, where you order a big plate of raw meat and cook it over a grill in the middle of your table. It is possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. When the plate of meat came to the table, I was a little skeptical because the meat looks fatty, and I have issues with that texture. But once it was cooked — boy oh boy. Tender, salty, sweet, meaty … just … perfect.

Then we went bowling. Unfortunately, I still have the same bowling skills I did in the States. I think my high score was around 70.

The kind coordinators at EPIK also gave teachers free tickets to last weekend’s Korea in Motion show. Alex and I saw a b-boy show called “Break Out” that was jaw-droppingly awesome. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of So You Think You Can Dance, but I wasn’t prepared for the real deal to be so impressive. These guys and gals did it all — the windmills, the worm, the isolations — and were even accompanied by a badass beatboxer.  Even Alex liked it!

We don’t have any big plans this week. Our friend Daegon got a bottle of fancy wine that he wants to share with us, so Alex and I invested in a few varieties of cheese, and we’re going to have a mini wine party/board game night at our place on Saturday. Thank goodness I packed Boggle! Never leave home without the essentials.

On Sunday, Alex wants to go hiking so we can see the views of the city and mountains while fall is in full swing — which it is. Daegu is showing its most beautiful colors for my first fall.

Life is good.

2 thoughts on “Welcome to Korea: Another Sunday, another tub of fish eating your foot’s dead skin”

  1. Yelena Lim says:

    Could you please tell me the address of the place where I may try the Doctor Fish?:D
    Thank you^^

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