My final day in Siem Reap was to be one of relaxation and soaking up the city. In such short amount of time I had gotten to know Siem Reap well and was already sad that I would be leaving in twenty-four hours.
My daily staple of fresh fruit was, on this last day, about to be dethroned. Around the corner, a corner which I had not taken before, was a small unassuming outdoor cafe. On its menu was a Big breakfast.
This included two scrambled eggs, a baguette, hash browns, bacon, ham, coffee and you guessed it…fresh fruit with yoghurt. All for $4. A better deal than before. I was all over that.
Breakfast was followed by a morning of walking the Wats. These are temples and pagodas. Siem Reap central is home to three Wats and I wanted to see them all.
Wat Bo is the oldest and became my favorite. Not simply because it was the oldest but because it looked like it was the oldest. With crumbling stone work, faded paint, and dusty dirt paths; Wat Bo was a living breathing reflection of Cambodia’s history.
Monks invited me to wander everywhere, take photos, and enjoy the peace of the monastery. Saffron robes hung from laundry lines. Deep toned chants echoed from private chambers. Dozens of golden stupas graced the perimeter. The entire complex had an air of tranquility and importance.
I was likely slack-jawed by its profound exotic beauty and spinning like an out of control tourist as I looked skyward to take it all in.
After several hours I headed back into the French Quarter. I passed by a couple soaking their feet in a pool of water and asked if I could join them.
It looked so soothing and relaxing. My feet were looking for some of that!
Dr Fish was the owner of the pool. Fifteen minutes for $1. For this dollar you get to soak your feet and have thousands of tiny fish nibble and soothe your aches, pains, and dead skin away.
The initial sensation is intense and your instinct is to immediately withdraw. Fish are eating your feet! They left the four original feet in the pool and all swarmed on mine. Eventually the population would evenly disperse but in that initial time my feet were like a boom town.
New dead meat!
The tickling was unlike anything I had felt before. I had done this once in Bali but this Cambodian version was populated by larger mouths, larger bodies, larger fish. They sucked and chomped with more purpose; like they had a predetermined goal. To remove any semblance of tan I had accumulated and leave my feet looking like those of a newborn.
My partners to this self-imposed onslaught were a couple from Canada. US really but moved to Canada for health insurance reasons. They had already gotten used to the feeling. I was still a couple of minutes away.
Btw, for the $1 you also received a free Angkor beer.
We got to talking about life and travel as fish dined below. Every now and then we would grimace slightly if one fish had a particularly aggressive manner and struggled to remove a piece from a sensitive area.
They were on a year-long journey and we shared stories. None of us removed our feet until our fifteen minutes were up and Dr. Fish re-emerged from inside with a towel to help us get dry.
My feet were now soft, white, and seemingly never used.
I floated down the street and back to my hotel. A gecko now shared my room and we greeted each other with a cursory glance as I lay on the bed; feet shimmering in the evening light.
For photos of Cambodia click here.