Sunday, September 21, 2008

Trip to Taichung Harbor

To celebrate my 25th birthday (my second birthday in Taiwan), I had an oyster roast on the roof of my new apartment building. Good food, good friends, and good conversation was a great way to take my mind off the fact that a quarter of my life is now over.

But that's not the topic of this blog post.

The topic is.... Taichung Harbor.

About an hour outside the city, the harbor brings in fresh seafood from the local fisherman every morning. There, the catch of the day sits in giant tanks of water and atop mounds of crushed ice, until someone comes to barter and buy whatever fancies them.

So this is where I went to purchase some shrimp and oysters for a roast on my rooftop.

The Harbor is an attack on all the senses. The sight of whole fish, fresh fish, dried fish, fish heads, fish tails, entire sharks, clams and snails the size of footballs, and sea creatures that I have yet to identify. It's all pretty overwhelming.

And then the smell hits you.

They always say that fresh fish really shouldn't have a fishy smell at all. Well, this place SMELLS like fish. I guess after 10 or 11 hours in 90 degree heat, the fresh fish isn't so fresh anymore.

Walk a little further, and you enter an area with several small "restaurants" where you can not only purchase the seafood, but they will also prepare and cook it for you. There are about 20 of these small food shops, and they all want your business... very much so. The shop owners instantly swarm you and yell at you to come to their table. I usually tell them I don't understand Chinese, so their next logical step is to start yelling at me in Taiwanese.

Duck and cover your head.. and keep walking.

Avoid getting squirted by the mussels or splashed by the tiger shrimp that are clinging to their last few moments of life.

What always amazes me about the harbor is the variety of things you can buy. Various size clams and oysters, prawns, sharks, crabs, snails, eels... anything imaginable.

Some of it you can get in any grocery store, some of it you didn't even know existed. Some of it you can't imagine people wanting to eat, and some of it you know is illegal to catch.

All in all though, it's a pretty cool place. And it makes for a great photo op.


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