"" THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: My next project would be...


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Sunday, 3 May 2009

My next project would be...

If you drive at night along the Terengganu coastal road between May and December, look past the coconut trees and beyond the waves. You will see a long row of lights. Chances are you are looking at the lights of the squid jiggers or in Terengganu slang, candat sutong.

If the Northern and Southern Hemisphere have four seasons and Malaysia has two (wet and wetter), Terengganu has many seasons. Not just a time to be sowing but a time to mukat bilis (netting the anchovy), mengail kerisi (fishing) tenggiri or other fish in season and a time to candat sutong (squid jiggling).

Fishermen will leave as early as 3 pm to scramble for the choicest lubok, where the most squids congregate.

Soon after night falls, the fluorescent lights, powered either by a generator or an auto battery (wet cells) will be switched on to attract the squids (or calamari, if you haunt Italian restaurants). The fishermen use multiple hooks (the candat) with fish bait or they use a jig made of lead with 10 hooks embedded. This is called a "twist" by the locals. The candat and the twist are both attached to a separate fishing line, usually nylon.

During the candat season, squids are easily caught. Depending on the lubok, the fishermen can catch between 40 to 100 kg of squids per night. The squids hardly put up a fight although they are known to hose you with their black ink as soon as you get them on the boat.

Mostly the squids are the straight torpedo type called torok (male) and the sotong tupat (female, with eggs). Sometimes you can get the big sutong katok and during the day, you might hook a sutong mengabang, which is shorter and fatter than the torok or sutong tupat. There is another sutong which Terengganu people call sutong kereta. It was much, much later that I found out that it was actually kurita or octopus.

If you are interested in experiencing candat sotong and you are not sea sick, contact your friendly travel agent. There are packages starting from RM210 per person (in Kuala Terengganu).

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