So I went to a fishing trip in what was intended to be part of my bucket list. I first heard about ‘mencandat sotong’ when I went to Kelantan about 5 years ago. It is some kind of fishing activity in Terengganu – except that it aims to catch squid instead of fish. I was told that it has its own season which runs from April to June. It is when squid are most plentiful.
They are said come near to the boats in hordes because they are attracted to the lights – which makes catching them very much easy. So, I started to come up with a plan with a group of friends – mostly my colleagues – but then there would always be a problem that forced us to abandon our plan every time. A few years on and there was still no mencandat sotong trip.
When I expressed my frustration to a group of Sabahan friends who are mostly fishing enthusiasts, they laughed out loud saying that this mencandat sotong is not exclusive to Terengganu alone – but it can also be done in many parts of Malaysia including Sabah – “except we don’t call it mencandat here.
We simply call it memancing sotong” said one of the friends. “In fact, we can easily get a big bucket of squid almost in no time before we move on to doing what we are there to do which is to fish. Sometimes we want the challenges. When you are there during the season, catching the squid will be too easy it actually bores you. Because there are too many of them!” he exclaimed.
And before I knew, we already came up with a plan. The date was set – and I soon found myself getting on board of as fishing boat at Kota Kinabalu harbor together with a dozen others. It was my first time getting beyond the islands of Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman – namely Manukan, Mamutik and Gaya – and it really felt great to see the islands from the other side. I even saw a light house on the far corner of Gaya Island – something that I didn’t know existed. And of course – over there across the distance is the towering Mount Kinabalu – a constant reminder that I was there in my own homeland.
It took us about 3 hours to go to the intended destination – nearby an isolated island called Mengalum – before the boat shuddered to a stop and the guys began to cast their baits into the emerald sea water. 3 hours into the open sea – and I felt like I was totally in the middle of nowhere. Without any mobile phone coverage, I felt totally disconnected from the outside world – something that I had wanted to be in for quite a long time anyway.
To tell the truth, I didn’t do any fishing. I only wanted to be there as part of the hilarity – to see how these guys do what they had paid some RM250 each for. It puzzles me how some people would spend quite a big chuck of their fortune to pay for fishing boats – and spend quite a lot of their time to do fishing – when they can easily buy fish at any of the wet markets.
What puzzles me most is the fact that they wouldn’t really get many fishes – in fact some of them would go home empty-handed even after spending the whole day fishing. And even more puzzling is that – they’d keep doing it. People keep comparing fishing with golfing. These two activities are known to be very addictive to some people.
What worried me most when I was about to get on board was the possibility of a seasickness – something that I knew I would most likely experience. I’ve been to a boat trip quite several times – especially when I was based in Sandakan when I had to go to remote islands to check out what I was paid to check out.
I’d spend many hours on the boat but then being on a moving boat might be different from on a stalled one – or so I was told. So, as precautionary, I took in an anti-seasick pill a couple of hours before getting on board. Then I took in a few more when we were already in the sea.
Labels: Mengalum Island, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park