Tired of crowds? Come visit an island where the people are afraid of the water!
It’s the long Thanksgiving weekend in America and if you live here you well know that boredom begins its operational creep around midday Friday. There is only so much day drinking a man can do before sluggishness takes over. Football, eat, drink, shop. Fat.
Next Thanksgiving I’m going to go on a surf trip. But where? I’m over crowds. I’m so tired of bobbing humanity’s bathtub next to people n shit. So where?
Maybe the Republic of China also known as sweet Taiwan!
The World Surf League is on standby there right now and of course I am not paying attention because it is a measly 1500, whatever the hell that is.
But I should be!
Because apparently everyone in Taiwan is afraid of the ocean and nobody can swim. Let’s read about it in this morning’s Guardian!
Set against a backdrop of lush green mountains sweeping down to a Pacific ocean swell, the village of Jinzun Harbour reminds some surfers of old-school Hawaii.
It is quite a claim to make about this quiet fishing community, and not just because it has only a nascent surfing scene. This village is in Taiwan, an island nation that for generations has had an unusual fear of the sea.
Yet last week Jinzun came alive as more than 200 surfers arrived to compete in Taiwan’s fifth Open of Surfing, a World Surf League qualifying series event with a $50,000 prize purse.
Riding the waves under grey, stormy skies, international competitors described the surf as world-class, its optimum swells created by seasonal typhoons.
On shore, tent stalls offered mouth-watering fried fish and aboriginal millet wine beside the palm-fringed fishing harbour.
As rain swept down over the mountains on the opening day, barefoot, sun-bleached Californian surfers mingled with bemused locals in raincoats.
Dancers in the traditional dress of the indigenous Amis tribe greeted the competitors with lively songs and a blessing ceremony. The crowd of spectators was small and convivial, with local families bringing their children to enjoy the performance.
The contest concludes on Sunday and is viewed as an excellent warm-up event for the longboard championship in Hainan, China, in December.
Surfing is still new to Taiwan, an island of 23 million off the east coast of China. Fewer than 100 people make a living out of surfing.
A high rate of drowning deaths has helped create nationwide trepidation but analysts say the aversion to water has cultural and political roots going back to the island’s tempestuous relationship with China.
Jonathan Spangler, from the Asia Pacific Policy Research Association in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei says: “In the education system here it’s taught that swimming in the ocean is dangerous, don’t go swimming.”
Dr Francis Hu, head of political science at Tunghai university, Taichung, explains that for decades, post-second world war Taiwan had also restricted access to the coastline for security reasons.
And can you believe this sweet gem? Apparently half of the population can’t swim.
That’s all I need to know. Next year I’ll be eating chow mein instead of that damned turkey. And surfing all by my sweet self.