Net Fishing with the boys

Vagabond Tim

Something to remember about many countries in SouthEast Asia is that pool tables are everywhere, and there is a very good chance the locals are absurdly good. Luckily a pitcher of beer is about 2$ so playing for beer and losing all day is still a pretty cheap way to spend an afternoon.

I spent a few days actually losing at pool and buying drinks, the upside being the drunker they got the closer to winning a game I actually got. If I hadn’t been drinking as well I might very well have won once or twice. As it happened all that resulted from my wasted days was making friends with the local tuk-tuk drivers and visiting a few of their homes and families before being invited out fishing on their day off. In short it was time well wasted.

Early in the morning we hopped onto a series of motorcycles laden with beer, gear, and coolers full of ice and more beer. Now I was still in quite a bit of pain and somewhat uneasy on a bike since I had recently crashed mine down a hill in the rain, so I had a few to take the edge off before departing. After a twenty or thirty minute drive across dirt roads and fields that I was later informed are often entirely submerged we arrived at a small lake.

This lake is actually simply the deepest part of a much larger lake that encompasses the fields we drove through. During the monsoon season apparently it swells up quite a bit and deposits all sorts of fish and fish related products on the land as the water recedes making those fields quite well fertilized.

We set up camp under a tree and on top of what I would later learn was some sort of sand fly habitat, in short I ended up covered in tiny bites.

We were going to catch fish in a giant net with some weights and floaters tied to it, by weights I mean rocks, by floaters I mean bottles. I believe the net in question to be a gill net, but sadly since no one really spoke much English I was unable to find out for certain.
After an unsuccessful half hour of floating around and trying to give me instructions in Khmer it was decided that perhaps I should just let them do it and bring over some beer. ‘Bring beer’ being among the few English phrases everyone knew.

A few too many later we found ourselves sitting around on a tarp eating fish, bones, faces, innards, and all. Periodically one would throw a fistful of garlic, rice, and whatever was in the third bag into their mouth to ‘season’ the mostly cooked fish. Like many things I have eaten while drunk I wonder after the fact how exactly I managed to keep it down, and why I ate it in the first place.

After we had consumed the fish and finished the beer we were forced to resort to something called palm wine or Tuk tnout choo, now to me it sounded more like tuk newt shoe, but it was hard to see straight after a glass of this vile substance, so we had a few. Essentially it tastes like a mixture of vinegar and vodka stored in a shoe for a few days. Like many of the local beverages I have sampled I am certain it contributes highly to the low average lifespan more than they realize.

So now, unable to stand properly and half an hour from home via motorcycle, far from any other means of returning to what I will call civilization we decided it would be best to head back before sunset. The bugs really start to get crazy after sunset. So we rode very slowly with our feet handing off the sides for the inevitable moments when someone forgot to hit the throttle and slowed to a stop. Clearly going that slowly was better than the alternative.

All told I got bitten by all sorts of fun and new insects, swam in very filthy stagnant water while still nursing open wounds from a motorcycle accident, drove another motorcycle over uneven poorly lit gravel while highly intoxicated, and ate barely cooked fish caught in the same filthy stagnant water. In short it was a great time.


At first they were quite eager to have he help with the fishing, it soon became apparent that my skill set was more suited to bringing them beer


Soon after I stopped ‘helping’ they had managed to catch quite a few fish


The fish are small and as far as I could gather called ‘undine’ or something that sounds similar. No one knew the name for them in English


After skewering the fish like hotdogs on homemade pointy sticks we set them above a fire containing no small amount of plastic as fuel and let them cook


After being ‘cooked’, mostly just warmed up actually, we proceeded to eat them bones and all. The only spicing came from throwing fistfuls of garlic and other things in ones mouth between bites

One Comment

  1. Claire
    May 31, 2014 at 20:43

    You sure enjoy living dangerously!

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