they sped off to a mangrove island of umm al-quwain for a shared purpose - to hunt crabs. i don't eat crabs, but heck, i'm curious.
we've been here before for the 'island escapade' hosted by myUAEpro, and we thought we knew what to expect once we're on the island of umm al-quwain. read about the 'island escapade' here.
if you google crab hunting in dubai, you'd find crab hunting tours and packages that can hit up to more than rm200 per person which includes pick-up, boat rides and buffet meals (along with the catch of the day) back at the hotel.
but we don't need all the pampering - so we headed off to palma beach resort (a one hour drive from dubai) and pay only rm56 per person for just the boat ride to the island. you can do the crab-cooking by yourself, on the island, straight after your lucky catch.
the 30mins boat ride ferrying a boatload of eager 'hunters' was calm, smooth, - almost uneventful until we caught sight of a flying fish! it's almost dark as we cruised the banks; stomach hungry for some crabmeat.
once on the island, half of our 'crab-hunters' group were already there, making themselves comfy in one of the many long huts there. a few tables were set up to put the potluck food on - an assemblage of dishes any hungry adventurer would wish for!
there were fast food - from kfc to pizza hut; there's normal fried rice, chinese fried rice and a homecooked one. there's cucur udang and there's yummy sweeties of chocolate mini cupcakes and even mandi rice from yours truly! someone even brought a hot pot of soup complete with garnishings on the side!
and it looks like raya was still in the air - someone brought rendang!
wait, why are here again?
oh, crab hunting!
to hunt crabs, you need a 'king triton's' spear, and a torch light. you should be wearing water resistant footwear (probably to prevent any 'accidents' with a vengeful crab) and beach clothings.
mr. khairul wore a simple t and bermuda, and bought a spear on the little island itself. lupa harga berapa. it's extremely sharp (you use it to stab crab shells, forgodsake!) so make sure you really keep it out of reach with kids around!
as mr. khairul went missing for a good crab-hunting hour, i lazed at the beach with my boys - courtesy of rosmah's tikar spread in the middle of the beach. khaleef was too restless to stay put so he went nuts playing by the shore with the other kiddos.
occasionally, shouts of triumph were heard in the distance as crabs upon crabs were caught. there were a few other big groups all around us in other huts; some are ready to build fire to cook their catch, and some built tents to spend the night under the stars.
as khaleef was busy at play, i took him out of it for awhile and went along the shore in search of my beloved urban hunter. only darkness enveloped us and the mystery the sea hid under its shores. bare-footed, we walked the sandy beach.
suddenly, the sight of spear-wielding 'crab-hunters', quietly treading the sea water made me stop to look carefully for any sign of mr. khairul.
there he is! eh eh! he got a crab!
at the end of his spear, i can see mr. khairul's first catch of the evening - a nice, juicy crab - still struggling, still alive! khaleef was stunned at the sight at first, but grew intrigued.
and when mr. khairul went back into the sea for a second swipe at the crabs, he brought back a plastic bag filled with 6 crabs and even a squid! as a beginner, i guess it's a decent catch, because the rest of the troupe caught more than half of that!
i wonder how they did it - stalk the water with super silent steps, hoping the crabs won't scrurry off? won't the ripple from the movement scare them away? wouldn't the bright light from the torch warn them of incoming 'predators'? and can the light even penetrate the murky lagoon?
mr. khairul was excited over his catch, and related to me his first few futile attempt. he went into the water, standing waist high - at first it was just stabbing the sea water blindly, hoping that the black blob he saw in the water was a crab. he then continued to waddle the water with hasnol and johar's help in pointing out the crabs for him to take a stab at.
only on his second and third try did he get to catch crabs on his own, with his own concentration and power of sight. masa tu rasa macam tom hanks' character in 'cast away'.
now that he's done, it's time to grill the crab, and mr. khairul was very adamant. he bought the fire starter, and charcoal just for this.
the malaysian group that we joined for this crab-hunting has been here more than thrice, but had never grilled their catch right there right then. usually they would always just pack up and bring the crabs back home to make masak lemak or masak cili!
so what would it taste like, the crab - being grilled without prior marinate or being spiced-up? bbq-ed as it is, fresh from the sea-water?
mr. khairul turned chef for that hour and flip-flopped the crab making sure they're evenly cooked. i don't eat crab, but even i was interested to know how it tastes like. hisses of the juicy crab being grilled brought my anticipation to the max.
then, it's done - and i had a small bite. it's absolutely delicious - and i'm not even a crab-lover! hot, smooth and soft to the touch; sweet, salty and juicy to the taste. imagine eating a crab fresh from the grill, fresh from sea, fresh from your own catch?
i think we owe it to the salty sea water for its amazingly perfect salty-sweet taste. lain kali marinate seafood dengan air laut je lah!
the men loved mr. khairul's bbq-ed crab and confessed that it does taste really good that you don't really need to bring it back and cook it properly just to enjoy it.
malaysian hunters ravaging salty-sweet crabs under the moonlight by the sea - this was definitely a weekend to remember.
* * *
later on the way home, mr. khairul described the crab-hunting experience as a thousand times better than any fishing trip. i personally credited it to man's innate barbaric instinct that dates back to the cavemen age - a weapon at hand, and something on the run to hunt.
in fishing, you draw the fish-rod, and wait. the thrill comes only when a fish caught your bait. on the other hand, during crab-hunting, men with sharp spears go wide-eyed across the sea like a murderer on a kiling-spree, and stab at anything moving. a taste for kill.
for cavemen, it was necessity. now it's for sport. both feed the thirst for adventure!