Oyster & Squid Cocktail

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Sunday, 28 August, 2016

Keelung, Taiwan

WARNING: don’t read this blog if you’re eating your breakfast.

With summer coming to a close, we thought that we would do something a little bit different to celebrate the sunshine, thus, decided to try our hand in fishing.

I’ve never actually done it before, however, a few months ago we did go shrimp fishing (this involves sitting alongside a pool filled with shrimps and then fishing them out – it’s kind of a step up from hook-a-duck at the fair) and I did reasonably ok at that. Therefore, I suddenly considered myself an expert when it comes to all things fishing.

Basically, I was quietly confident that I was going to catch three sharks and a whale on this trip.

We got to the harbour a little bit early because we wanted to take a walk around the fish market. While we were there, we got to witness a highly entertaining crab make a break for it as its stall owner was trying to sell a bunch of fish to a customer.

Imagine watching a prisoner escaping that can only run sideways, that was pretty amusing – unfortunately, these limitations were not going to allow the poor crab to get very far. The lady’s co-worker did some really impressive football skills – he scooped the crab up on his foot and then flicked it back into the basket it came from.

I learned two things from that incident – one, the world is a cruel place for a crab, and two, there is a man working on a fish market in Taiwan that is better at football than anybody currently playing for Leeds United.

The longer we walked around the place, the hungrier we became – so, we eventually caved to one man’s pitch (about 7% of which I actually understood) and decided to grab a big oyster to share.

It was juicy, delicious and covered in wasabi sauce – which would usually be fine. Unfortunately, I currently have a mouth ulcer that hadn’t bothered me in a few hours, and therefore, had slipped my mind – it did not approve of my poor choice in snack.

The pain was pretty brutal. I remember laughing at a friend who was once stupid enough to rub his eye straight after picking up a chilli – he screamed, he cried and he must have poured a gallon of water down the right side of his face – the whole scene was hilarious.

Well, on Saturday I finally received my karma. I suspect the torture in my lower lip wasn’t too far away from the pain he had in his eye. Oh, it stung! It felt like a couple of wasps were having a party inside my mouth.

Yet, that wasabi taste would later prove to be merely the tip of the iceberg.

After a lot of water, and a beer (booze heals all wounds), the pain had lessened and we were ready to take the boat. We wandered to the dock where we saw that about thirty other people would be joining us on the trip – I imagine they heard about my impressive shrimp fishing debut and came out purely to watch me perform.

It appears I would have my work cut out if I was going to maintain my reputation as the best fisherman in Taipei – talk about unrequested pressure!

I was gifted plenty of time to show off my skills though – the trip was five frigging hours long! Naturally, I brought a few beers along for the journey – after all, I will probably need to hand them out around the boat later, you know, to allow everybody to toast the first shark that I pull in.

As we walked on the boat, they offered us a lovely bowl of squid, it tasted gorgeous – sadly, it would soon become apparent that that squid would be the only highlight to come out of this entire trip (for me, at least).

The boat set off very quickly, the water was rough and we were instantly bouncing up and down with more ferocity than an eight-year-old on a bouncy castle after a pint of coke. Within ten minutes, I was extremely queasy and had a pea green complexion.

This was going to last five hours! What was I thinking?!

Furthermore, there was obviously no way to eradicate the length. Whichever way you look at it, I was going to have the appearance of Shrek and feel like a cat trapped in a washing machine for the whole ride. What could I do, jump out and swim back to shore? That’s ridiculous, and yet, something I did genuinely considered for a minute or so.

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Before we had even got to the point of pulling our fishing rods out, I was sitting in the cabin throwing up into a plastic bag – the oyster and squids I previously mentioned were no longer within my body, that’s for sure – the inside of my bag looked like an acidic, seafood cocktail.

As stated, we were on the boat for a bloody long time – so throwing up became a bit of a theme for the evening. In fact, at one point I was joined in the cabin by two other people in a similar predicament and we developed a bit of a vomit habitual during our time together. I would usually go first and it would trigger them two to follow suit – to some, it may have been considered quite the ensemble piece. In a weird way, it felt like we were bonding.

However, I wasn’t there to throw up (obviously)! I was there to catch fish, therefore, it was time to toughen up and get on with that task. I regained my belief! I dusted myself off, cleaned my face and made my way to my rod on the deck – I was going to give the fans what they came to see!

Nope, no I wasn’t. God had other plans for me. As I stood up and walked outside I threw up down my shirt. Apparently though, there was nothing solid left inside me, so I kind of just dribbled liquid down my front – it was the definition of sexy. Obviously, I immediately turned around and went back to visit my sick gang in the cabin.

That was where I stayed for the next four hours – what a nightmare trip. So, to clarify, on my first ever fishing outing, I didn’t even touch the rod, let alone catch a fish. I may also decide to never set foot on a boat again. Still, I can at least boast one victory – I was sick more than anybody else, at a record six times.

Monica, my company on the trip, managed to catch herself a massive fish – it was huge. So, well done to her! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo as I was too busy being sick everywhere. Subsequently, I guess she will now be the one with all the fishing fans and I’ll be going back to the less nauseating hook-a-duck.

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