Gone shrimping

January 10, 2009 at 8:22 AM | Posted in Taiwan | 1 Comment

The Taiwanese students have been working so hard to make this a fun, cultural experience for us, and it’s been wonderful. Yesterday they had a Chinese New Year party for us, where we had dumplings (a traditional chinese new year food), learned Chinese calligraphy from the students, and got to spend a lot of time talking with the students.

Then last night they took us out for beef noodle soup, a Taiwanese specialty (the handmade udon noodles were fantastic but I’ve decided that, except for a really good steak, I don’t like beef that much). At dinner I also ate a “thousand-year-old egg,” which is a preserved egg that is blackish-blue and served with silken tofu and ginger. It was neither good nor bad–it just tasted like a mushy egg–but as you can see, it’s not exactly the most appetizing-looking foodstuff in the world.

We then went to a “lounge bar” for a few hours for some drinks, and afterwards the students asked what we wanted to do. It was only about 11:00, so they reeled off a few options–pub, other bars, or shrimping. As soon as James said “shrimping” we all said “Yes, let’s do that,” even though none of us had any idea what it actually entailed. Turns out that’s because it only exists in Taiwan. We got in cabs and pulled up to a building with metal siding that was about the size of a high school gym. “This is the shrimping court,” said James. Shrimping court? We walked into the building, which had concrete floors and fluorescent lights and the only obese people I’ve seen so far in Taiwan. In the middle of the room was a gigantic pool with blackish water and a whole bunch of shrimp on the bottom (you couldn’t see the shrimp on the surface), and people were sitting around the pool on plastic chairs and holding fishing rods, drinking beer and waiting for a nibble on their rod. After they had collected a bunch of shrimp, they would either spear the shrimp and grill them alive, or throw them into a pot and boil them.

We rented a few rods and started shrimping. It was surprisingly difficult! There was a real art to catching a shrimp, and a few of the locals who apparently spent a whole lot of time there gave us some good tips. As a group (about 15 American and Taiwanese students) we caught probably 25 or 30 shrimp over the course of the evening–we got there around 11:30pm, and I left at 1:30 but a group stayed until almost 3–the shrimping court closes around 8am. After almost an hour and a half, I caught my first shrimp, and we grilled and ate them. They weren’t bad! And I think it’s safe to say that this was one of the more unique experiences of the trip.

Today (Saturday) they planned out a whole day of activities for us. We rented bikes, and almost our whole group–the men included–got pink Hello Kitty beach cruisers with a bell and a basket. We took our bikes onto a ferry that went to a small island off Taiwan, and we biked/hiked around the island, had an unbelievable seafood lunch (our table of 8 had about 10 dishes and the total came to $10 per person–and it was the most expensive restaurant in town), hung out on the beach, biked over to a teahouse to watch the sunset, and now we are heading out to check out the Kaohsiung nightlife. What a fun day!

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  1. Eggs, thanks for painting such vivid tales with your words and photos. I can taste and smell what you’re describing…and that isn’t always so good. –Joodles


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