Monday, June 10, 2013

Thailand Adventure: Squid Fishing

If you wonder out at night on the shores of the Phu Noi beach in November you will find a calm quiet wake made visible by the lights of fisherman boats sending up an eerie green glow on the horizon under bright familiar constellations. Were you there in November 2012 you would have found 4 travelers come to this scene with excitement for a new experience and possible bragging rights of squid fishing in Thailand. 

I, for one, am not a fan of fishing. Maybe one day I'll fall in love with it but up to this point the zeal with which I signed my name to the list of the midnight venture was not for the love of the sport, but for the naive love of anything you've never tried in a land you've never been. Here, squid fishing at midnight was new for all of us and we heartily agreed to the bargained amount to pay a willing local to take us out.

 Night fell and we excitedly drew together and followed the directions to our boat and its guide (who's description matched the appearance of an elderly uncle). "It'll be a boat on the shore with a red light. Don't be late."
If there's one thing I learned in the east it's that we do not speak the same English. I'm suspicious that western culture depends on its general public to be idiots and supplies more than enough directions followed with listed repercussions should those instructions not be followed by said idiots. On eastern shores, however, we were entrusted with supposed common sense. If you ask, they are incredibly sweet to answer, but you won't get an answer unless you ask.
Well, I guess we should have asked.
But there we found not one boat but several, all lining the shore, all with red lights, all with uncles. Making our way to one with insecure confidence a fisherman emerged to its bow with a look of expectancy. Perhaps this man, who didn't speak English and looked to be the youngest elder I had ever seen, was nice enough that if he wasn't our contact he wouldn't just take our offered money, drive us out to the ocean and drop us into its depths.   
But in the name of risk taking and in the spirit of adventure we waded out into the water (I guess jeans were a bad idea), climbed aboard, gave the man our baht and feverishly hoped with excited giggles that we weren't being boated to a watery grave as the shore grew smaller and smaller in the distance and the nearing green horizon took specified form. 

We passed the islands we had kayaked around earlier that day and came to an unidentified spot where our Thai fisherman set to work on educating us without saying a word. For each he tied a hook onto a long fishing line, anchored the line to the boat railing at four corners, sat us down at our posts and after a smiling mute demonstration of a periodic pull and jerk of the line he left us to try our hand at snagging a squid from a pod swimming past.

My first time meeting squid in person and with quite a bit of dumb luck I managed to see a happy variety of shapes, sizes, ink squirts and flashing iridescent colors.
Mesmerized, in love, and blood thirsty for more, we fished on.

Our growing confidence waned a little when our Thai fisherman demonstrated real effective fishing with a net, but he indulged us, letting us play around for several hours with whatever method we created.
So near 4 hours later with our bucket full of squid and me very seasick...

... we concluded it a very merry adventure, owing our gratitude and safety to the "uncle" that gave us a gracious experience of local life and a gracious gift of our catch and safe return to shore.
He wasn't a murderer after all.

Squid... so cool.

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