Fishing bars

Fancy yourself the outdoorsy type, but hate the outdoors?  Love being near water, but can’t stand the bugs?  Know yourself to be a great fisherman, but just can’t catch anything because the fish refuse to co-operate?  Well then, the Taiwanese fishing bars are for you.

You can swig beer, smoke cigarettes, catch fish/shrimp/lobsters – you know, all that manly, rugged stuff without being inconvenienced by weather conditions, insect populations and other troublesome nature stuff.  The prey will be very obliging, and you even have a BBQ on hand to grill your catch immediately.  Nothing beats the outdoors like the great indoors!

I was tickled pink when I first came across these establishments.  Usually inside large warehouse type buildings, these places have 1 or more in-ground pools.  The “laoban” (boss) comes around to these pools at set intervals and dumps fresh (most likely bought at the fish market that day) catch in.  This can be shrimp, lobster, fish – depending on the place.

Prices for fishing vary from NT 2000 – 2500 (US$ 66 – 83), usually for 3 hours.  People rent poles and bait, or bring their own (hardcore fishing types obviously).  They then sit around the pools, order beer or whiskey and wait for their lines to catch a bite.  Smoking and chewing betelnut also ensues.  It’s better than sitting out in the rain, being eaten alive by mosquitoes while waiting for a catch:

Once you have proved yourself to be a wondrous fisherman/woman, you will have developed quite an appetite.  Ta-Da!!!  Here is a nice BBQ.  You can salt your catch and throw it, still wriggling, on the grill.  Nothing beats a nice meal after a strenuous few hours of fishing….right?

If you are just too tired and worn out from thinking about fishing, have no fear.  Fishing is not necessary.  Simply select something from the menu, and it will be brought to your table.  So you can get the whole fishing experience without even fishing!

This seems to be a pretty popular past time for a lot of folk, at least in the rural areas.  And it’s not just the rehab cases with nothing to do that frequent these joints either.  Young couples come here for dates, wannabe gangsters lounge around looking tough, business men drizzle by after work, and I’ve even seen families at these places.

Dad is usually intensely immersed in fishing.  Mom is languishing around, filling dad’s drink ever so often, looking bored out of her mind and the kids are running around being kids.  All under a wonderfully billowing cloud of betelnut perfumed cigarette smoke.

Just like a picture from Parenting magazine eh?

All mockery aside, I guess these places are so popular because of the convenience factor.  Packing up and driving out of town to go fishing doesn’t really fit the schedule of the overworked Taiwanese, so this is an easy and fun way to relax and release some stress.  Real fishing enthusiasts will find these places boring, but for the occasional angler, it makes sense.

So leave your raingear and boots at home.  Wrangle up some shorts, sandles and your wallet.  Put on them drinkin’ shoes and head over for a nice afternoon of “fishing”.

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