Building Oyster Hut on the Sea – Xian-Chia Ting
In order to physically experience the challenges of being an oyster farmer, I made an appointment with Xian-Chia Ting, the Chinese omelet prince in Taisi, to go fishing with him in Wu-Tiao Harbour at 3am.
The prince gave me a flashlight and a hip wader. This was the only equipment we had in the freezing night. We waited for approximately half an hour before getting on the plastic raft. The plastic raft was made from a few plastic hosts that were five to six meters long, and had a motor which provided power from the rear. After starting the motor and raising the anchor, we drove under a bridge to the newly developed industrial area and in the direction of the FPC sixth naphtha cracker complex.
Being out to sea in the middle of the night made it impossible to see the surrounds. Only the lights from the shore could be seen as they gradually got dimmer as our distance increased. I was a bit afraid since I was not able to see the shore. I was only able to make myself feel more secure by looking at the distant street lights.
As we sailed along the embankment from the sandbank, I observed that the construction of the newly developed area had changed the way the coastline looked. Due to the continual loss of coastal sand on the south shore and the accumulation of sand on the north shore, the naval ports have decreased in size. The prince said “No one will be able to drive a boat on the inland sea after a couple of years if this continues”.
We stopped twice on the sea, both times to wait for the tides to ebb. I changed to the hip wader while we waited. This was my first time to wear a hip wader, and it felt so real. The green water-proof thick over-all material went all the way up to my chest, and it could be buttoned up just by knotting the plastic tubes in front. The water-proof material extended all the way down to the rain boots, so that your chest would not feel so cold. The wind and wave tonight was not big, but the cold north wind blew until my nose was running. Once we finally arrived at our destination, the river to the sea in the south of the FPC’s sixth naphtha cracker complex, we waited for the tides to ebb.
There was only one raft in the darkness. We hid it behind a little mountain pile by oyster shells from the wind, which smelled foul from time to time. The yellow lights sparkled in the dark night with the FPC’s sixth naphtha cracker complex as the background.
I was sitting on the plastic raft at the beginning, and then I tried to get off in the sea. I could not touch the bottom of the sea even after I stretched my legs. Only when my whole body left the raft completely could my feet step on the beach. The fear that you cannot step on land is something that people who live on the land all the time cannot understand.
The oyster hut building works were finally finished around 9am. We moved forward towards the open sea and went around the whole newly developed industrial area. The waves got bigger as soon as we got out to sea. Luckily the prince of Chinese omelet had a big raft that was good enough to ride on top of a few waves without things being too bumpy. We sailed back and finished the lunch box that had become cold a while ago from the wind and waves.
We returned to the shore around 10am. I returned to my accommodations and felt so tired and fell right asleep. The prince, however, still needed to prepare to sell his Chinese omelet in the afternoon!
This is just a one day experience for me, but the everyday life of fishermen.