|Attentively listening to the briefing. The guy in army shirt is Abang Mie.|
|The grey stuffs are fishing weights. The orange stuffs are reusable baits. They are fluorescent because squids are attracted to brightness.|
|Siap sedia untuk menjadi nelayan. Penuh semangat!|
|Arrived at the home of squids in the middle of the sea. We weren’t alone, there were lots of other boats too.|
|Take a spot. Now let’s catch some squids!|
There are two ways of doing it – using a fishing rod or using a line without a rod. Since we were all first timers, Abang Mie prepared a rod for each of us. The rod was fixed with a weight and a single bait, so it would catch one squid at a time. Ellie was rather surprised with this. “Only one squid at a time? Can we just throw in a net and catch a hundred at one go?” They crew laughed and told us yes, that was possible, but only if we jump into the sea and dive with the net!
Waiting for a squid to take the bait was a real test to my patience. With the exception of Mazlan (Zaza’s fiancé) and his friend, none of us had much experience going fishing. So it was quite hard for us to tell whether there was a squid at the end of the line or it was merely sea current. Every now and then we had to call for the crew to help us check, was there squid or no squid? And after waiting for a while…
|…our first catch, finally! We were screaming with joy!|
|Live squid (red) vs. dead squid (white).|
We caught more than enough squids for dinner, so we took a break around 9pm perform solat Isha. By the way, the boat was well equipped with a clean toilet, a small kitchen and a platform with comfy mattress for us to take a nap. Even though we were in a middle of the sea, everything was convenient. Pretty impressive for a small scale fishing boat.
Meanwhile, the crew prepared rice and gulai ikan kerisi caught by Mazlan and his friend. The cook asked us how we would like to have the squids. I told him to fry them tempura style (I brought the flour all the way from KL). He suggested to simply deep fry them without any coating. I was a bit skeptical on how that would taste, but he told me not to worry, fresh squids taste good just as they are.
|Dinnertime. Thanks to Mazlan, we got to eat fish too.|
|The cook was right. Simply fried fresh squids tasted really yummy!|
|The hard work continued after dinner. More and more squids came on board.|
By midnight, most of us were already sleepy. The mattress wasn’t big enough to fit us all, so we took turn to sleep. I woke up at 2am and saw Abang Mie and his crew persistently catching squids, while we were sound asleep! He said the best time to catch squids was before dawn. True enough, the three crew members caught more squids during that time than the seven of us the entire night!
|Beautiful sunrise at South China Sea.|
|The cook granted my wish. Tempura squids for breakfast!|
|The little corner where he did his magic.|
As the sun rises, the crew took the boat closer to the shore, so we could catch fish. After the experience of catching squids, fishing seemed to be much easier. For one, the water was shallower thus the current didn’t play tricks on us. Secondly, a line was fixed with many baits, so we could catch two or even three fishes at one go. Talk about efficiency!
|Mazlan, Abang Cook and Zaza.|
|Look at that, two at a go!|
|Meanwhile in the cold box, our leftover squids were waiting.|
|After we were done fishing, at around 10am the boat took us back to the shore.|
We went to a nearby convenience shop to buy a large container, plastic bags and lots of ice to store our catch. It was important to keep the squids chilled as it would be a while until we board our flight in the afternoon. Then we headed to Jeti Pulau Kapas to shower and off to the airport to seal-pack our squids.
|Drained the ice and sealed the container with plastic wrap for RM 10.|
We left the container at the airport and headed out to have lunch and buy keropok lekor. Returned to the airport just in time to check in. The counter staff told us the flight was quite full, so she doubted that all of us could get seats. By the time the gate closed, only Faizi got to get onboard, while the rest of us had to wait for the next flight. So we sent Faizi off with the squids and took a cab back to the city.
We went back to Pasar Payang as Ellie wanted to get a piece of batik that she eyed on the day before. The store owner remembered us and offered a really good price for it. Then we went out, determined to find Bukit Puteri that Zaza told us about, which we finally did! Unfortunately the place was closed at 5pm so we couldn’t go up. So we spent the time walking around the nearby area and watch the sunset.
|Behind me, amidst the modern building, is the entrance to Bukit Puteri.|
|Ellie. Din. Restoran Terapung Kuala Terengganu.|
We took a cab back to the airport to catch the 7pm-ish Firefly flight home. Seemed that the entire day revolved around us taking cabs everywhere! Fortunately there were several empty seats, so all of us managed to get onboard. It was my first time flying Firefly. Pretty nice, I must say. The crew cabin crew was friendly. Pax were offered juice and apple pie on board. The best part was it landed in Subang, just across the road from my office and not too far from home. No wonder everyone loves it.
At the end of the day, our short weekend trip was a really memorable one. Catching squids was without a doubt a truly fun experience. When we looked at the number of squids we got and their impressive size (most of them were a foot long), all the waiting, dirty work and staying up at before dawn were definitely worthwhile. To have helpful and friendly boat crew to guide us was also a major plus point.
Thank you Zaza for organizing the trip. Thank you Mazlan for helping us with the logistics. Terima kasih Abang Mie dan rakan-rakan yang sentiasa sabar memberi tunjuk ajar serta melayan kerenah kami yang langsung takde pengalaman turun ke laut. Perhaps we can do it again the next squid season. That time around, let’s fill up the entire cold box with squids!