I was the seafood…

A little story from the Left Brain of this operation:

Last weekend the company hosted a workshop/retreat for my department. Part of the deal was getting to visit some hot springs a couple of hours outside of Shenyang. First of all, nearly every other guy there was wearing a Speedo (or the Chinese equivalent). It was a little awkward. But that’s to be expected. I already stand out like a beacon just being American, having on my bright orange board shorts didn’t really make much of a difference.

So we’re going around trying out these different pools and I realized that they add stuff to all of them for different therapeutic purposes. I hopped into a coffee bath, a red wine bath, a beer bath, and a milk bath. They kept reminding us not to drink the water.

Really? You’d have to be pretty desperate to get buzzed off a hot spring but whatever. Apparently someone must have tried it at some point or they wouldn’t need to warn you, right?

In one of the other rooms, I jumped into a mint bath and an aloe bath. Then, we’re getting ready to head up to the lounge and grab some food when we run into one of the other German expats. He tells us we need to join him in the “Fishbowl”.

Now, I’m not sure what the “Fishbowl” is. It sounds pretty harmless, right? Probably just a big pool that’s got glass around it so everyone can see you or something. So…of course I agree. In the month we’ve been here I’ve already learned that this is a very dangerous thing to do – agreeing to something you don’t understand. Bad idea. I should have listened to my gut.

In this case, the “Fishbowl” turned out to be a pool…

Full of fish.

That nibble on you.

Traveling China: the fishbowl
Photo credit to Pilotgirl

First thought – “Oh, that’s not so bad – it’s like scuba diving.”

Second thought, “The fish don’t bite you when you scuba dive.”

Third thought, “How the heck can I get out of here?!?!”

Now, it should be mentioned that there are 2 other Chinese guys and 3 Germans in this group. And as I’m looking for an escape route, one of the Germans proceeds to pay for all of us to use the “Fishbowl”. For half an hour. Fantastic. All hope of escape just went out the window.

I figure, what the heck, I’ll just dip my feet in or something. So I sit on the side of the pool, trying to look inconspicuous. Which works for about 45 seconds. Until one of the Chinese guys asks when I’m going to get in. I figure I can’t play it off for another 29 minutes so I bite the bullet.

Up until this moment, I’ve never in my life had a fish bite me before. This changes very quickly. These fish are like flesh-seeking missiles – with teeth. So, the first few bites are kind of interesting. It’s like a puppy nipping at your finger or toe. But after you’ve been in the water for a few minutes, it’s like 101 Dalmations all nipping at your fingers, toes, legs, back, stomach, etc.

Not so interesting anymore.

More like horrifying.

As if all this isn’t bad enough, think back a minute and remember that I’m an American. So, unlike all of the other guys in the pool, I’m not wearing a Speedo. I’ve never been so jealous of a Speedo.

I spent the next 25 minutes clutching my shorts to my legs with a death grip.

Eventually I realized that if you keep moving, they don’t latch on as much and will move to easier targets (aka my work colleagues). I start doing laps. Not really, but let’s just say I’m not really sitting still most of the time.

Finally our time runs out and I jump out of the pool. Just to be certain I don’t get roped into anything else, I head over to get some food.

I figure that whatever Chinese food they have has got to be better than the reverse, where I am the Chinese fish food.


7 thoughts on “I was the seafood…

  1. Forget speedo! You would have been MUCH safer in Kristen’s spandex pants! Oh my! Oh my!!! I just can’t imagine this!!

  2. Oh my! I have laughed and laughed at this. I guess a Speedo is quite useful in this situation. You think China has one to fit you somewhere – you may want to splurg for one! What the purpose? Do they nibble the dead skin away? I don’t think I could have handled that! GOOD for you….left brain.

  3. I will forever have the image of you in a Speedo seared into my brain, even though you weren’t in one…thanks…HIGH-larry-yus story!!!

  4. I stumbled across your webpage while searching for information on living in China. My family will be moving to southern China (Guangzhou) sometime in June for my husband’s job. I love reading about your experiences but this one is extra funny!! Fortunately, the average annual temperature in Guangzhou is 71 degrees so I won’t have to worry about buying fleece lined pants. Though, moving from Minnesota, I already have plenty of those! :-)