Cambodia Trip: Insightful Conversations Over a Fish Massage

Meet Suti, he wants to be tour guide when he grows up. He’s only 16 years old and yet he’s been working as a fish massage attendant for awhile. Working at night by taking care of the fishes, he also persuades customers to try out the massage service. He currently lives with his grandmother as his parents are no longer around. He does this in order to provide for her as well as support his studies.

Pub Street
Siem Reap, Cambodia

khmer boy
Suti, a Khmer kid making ends meet.

It was our last night in Cambodia. After a long day of walking and after a stressful experience of haggling with vendors at the Night Market, we decided to spend the remaining hours at the Pub Street looking for a massage service.

massage siem reap
fish tank

Massage parlors: foot massage, body massage, spa services. Cambodia has lots of them at ridiculously low rates. If Philippine massage spas are cheap, you haven’t visited Cambodia. You can get a body massage for a dollar but I’m not too sure with the quality. Still, there are so many services and shops available that everybody’s competing with each other to attract more customers.

Suti approached us after noticing that we were wandering around. He offered their fish massage for 3 USD each but we still haggled for half the rate. After consulting his boss, he accepted our offer as it seemed that we were going to be their last customers for the night.

fish massage siem reap
meaningful conversations

We dipped our feet in the water while Suti went out for a jiff. When he came back, he sat beside us bringing a bag of fruits (what seemed like Lanzones but actually not) that we took a few glances on. Upon noticing our curiosity, he offered the bag to which we picked some without hesitation.

That’s when our conversation started and that was when we we’ve come to know about his story and his life. I was astonished by his demeanor. Still kind and friendly despite how we forced them to give us a cheaper price. He still offered the food that he brought even if it was only good for himself. If I can still recall, I believe he mentioned earning around 50 USD a month which he uses to buy what he needs to contribute and survive.

siem reap massage cambodia siem reap massage
minding the conversation more than the pampering

“I study during day and I work at night. I take care of the fishes. One day, I’ll finish school and learn different languages so I can become a tour guide.” He has a positive outlook on things despite many misfortunes.

khmer massage
Den, Doi and Suti

Instead of highlighting our experience in the fish tank, we focused our attention to this hardworking boy. He served as an inspiration and made me contemplate on the time when I was his age. The mind is fresh and dreams are endless. I pray that he keeps his idealism intact and not get swayed easily in life. I guess Suti represents every Khmer kid who wishes to overcome obstacles in life through perseverance and hard work.

This is one of the many memorable stories in Siem Reap that I would’ve missed out on had I not pushed through with the trip.

Here’s a couple of comprehensive guides about Siem Reap:

Check out my other adventures here:

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Please don't forget to confirm your subscription by checking your Inbox. is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
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10 thoughts on “Cambodia Trip: Insightful Conversations Over a Fish Massage”

  1. wow, sarap naman po ng mga trips nyo…i do really hope makapagout of the country din ako in the future….hehehe…thanks nga po pala for visiting on my blogsite….hope you could be one of my followers….hehehehe…thanks po ulit…^_^

  2. @brian: go lang brian, you will soon! thanks for dropping by my blog too! will drop by from time to time! πŸ˜€

    @natalie: these scenes are a big slap on my face when the need comes. They make us realize that life's not all that bad for us. πŸ˜€

    @lakwatsera de primera: sana nga! grabe kamura di ba? yung iba nga, may fish massage for 2 USD tas may free beer or coke in can pa πŸ˜€

  3. Fish massage was expensive in Thailand so I refused to try…didn't know if it's really effective aside from the tickling bites of the doctor's fish.

  4. truly inspiring Ed! πŸ™‚ naaalala ko din sarili ko sa kanya, I've been working when I was in college for Php25 an hour . haha d ko kase alam na uso na call center noon kaya sa library ako nag-work sa campus.  kaya pagnakakabasa or nakaka meet ako ng mga ganyang bata, natutuwa tlga ako. I'm positive one day his dreams will come true. πŸ™‚
    sayang tlga yung fish massage, mura xa compared sa ibang countries pate dito saten, naubos kase pera ko sa pasalubong, sa cambodia lng tlga ako super bumili ng mga pasalubong. haha 

  5. I love this post Ed. Sometimes we always aspire for more. New gadgets and everything but reading this post should make one realize how lucky we all are to be able to have the best of life. Going to Cambodia makes one realize the real essence of life!

  6. @thepinaysolobackpacker: inspiring indeed, gael! I also like his story because I remember having to work at 17 to help out. We see a bit of each other on this and every kid who has dreams and are working on them! 

    haha the fish massage, sayang naman kahit one dollar lang. hehe. pero ok na rin kasi ansaya ng pampasalubong yung mga items sa Night Market! πŸ˜€

    @pinoy boy journals: thanks jerik! appreciate the kinds words coming from you! I guess that's why Angelina Jolie was determined in helping this country out after Tomb Raider. Yeah, we are thankful for the things we have and we just need a wake up call like Cambodia to make us realize that our complaints are not as important. πŸ˜€


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