**disclaimer, none of these photos are mine, as I didn’t have my camera that day.
Those of you familiar with Fairy Tales must know which story I was after when I chose the title of this post.
‘Nibble, Nibble little mouse, who is nibbling at my house?’
Sound familiar? It’s from Hansel and Gretel. I grew up watching the opera version of this. Forget Disney, this girl watched opera!
Now that we’ve gotten sidetracked talking about opera, why don’t you let me tell you a little story of last weekend when I went to Jiaoxi with my friend’s host family and got my feet nibbled on by little fish.
As you have probably surmised, I have the rare gift of spending inordinate amounts of time in my room. Therefore here I was on another Saturday night planning on another Sunday spent in my room. Thank the lord for Danielle, my room mate, who asked me if I wanted to go to Costo in Taipei with she and her host family. Did I ever! So the following morning I rose, breakfasted, and set off for Taipei in the backseat of one of those cute Nissan cars I have grown to like here.
There is another story to this story, of course. One being that the host family had brought friends, and it was in their car that I rode. The were middle aged sisters, wearing matching outfits, which made it a bit difficult to tell them apart. They told me their names, which I promptly forgot. Because their English wasn’t stellar, and also because they wanted the children in the car (who belonged to one of them, not sure who), I spoke in English to the kids, and Chinese to the sisters.
The children were in 5th and 6th grade, and were quite polite. I was pleased with the older brother’s desire to speak English with me. Although his Mom had to initially prompt him to ask me questions, by the drive home he was asking her ‘and then what else can I ask?!’
As I have been before, Costo wasn’t as overwhelming as it had been the first time, although it was much more crowded. Danielle and I took a cart, which we abandoned halfway through, just because it was impossible to steer it through the throngs of people who didn’t seem to be able to know their location in space. Danielle bought Cheerios and looked for peanut butter, but wasn’t able to find it. I was glad I”d bought the last two huge vats on my previous visit, Those will last quite a while. I resisted buying another 1kg bag of chestnuts because I almost couldn’t roast them fast enough last time. I know it will only be a matter of time before I buy another though, as I love their nutty, sweet potato flavoured reminders of chilly fall.
As Danielle had warned me, trips with her host family never end, and soon we found outselves back in the car after a drive home, a stop at their house for an apple snack and bathroom break, speeding towards Jiaoxi, the next township over from Yilan.
The weather had been dabbling in rain all day, as though it couldn’t quite decide whether it wanted to pour or just stay overcast. Both are in keeping with true Yilan fashion. Parking on the side of a hill which seemed to be directly under the misty mountains, we walked through the city until we came to a little bench area covered with an overhang. Upon closer inspection, I could see that the benches surrounded a pool with fish swimming right, left, upwards, downwards, dead skin eating. One man had a newspaper and was reading while the fish worked on his feet.
Hands stamped, shoes removed, we stepped into the pool of warm spring water. I guess it was hot spring water, but I wasn’t too warm. I was surprised that the first didn’t seem to gravitate to my feet at first. Surely my feet, after three months of wearing gross sandals and trekking mostly everywhere on foot, would be a feast to be seen. Keeping perfectly still, I let my legs relax and a few fish began to nibble. Danielle found this all quite tickly and strange, so I didn’t mention all my thoughts to her, but I certainly had many.
What if the fish die? Do we step on them when we walk through here?
Do fish have teeth?
How dirty actually IS this water?
Do they filter the water, or is it just…here?
Eventually we, too had socks made of fish, and spent about an hour chatting while the fish chowed down.
The family provided us with towels and although I’d dried my feet, it was raining and my newly smoothened feet were slipping and sliding in my old, loose sandals, all the way back to the car.
How do I feel? Very smooth, and much more clean.
Would I do it again? I think so. I just don’t like sitting in one position for so long, it doesn’t feel good for my circulation.
PS: Would you do this?