At Sang Arun Pier, where Thai fishermen haul-in their
weekly and bi-weekly catch,you get transported to another world,
Phuket Harbour, just a hop, skip and jump from Robinson's
Department Store in Phuket Town, is so completely different, so
utterly out of the ordinary, that unless you have an interest in
commercial fishing, you have to be very advent urous to vent ure
out there. Not only that, but to really experience the excitement,
the exhilaration and to witness for yourself the "big one that
didn't get away, the best time to visit this bustling market
and commercial processing plant is before 6am. At Sang Arun Pier,
where Thai fishermen haul-in their weekly and bi-weekly catch, you
get transported to another world, another time. To experience the
fishwife haggling over crates of live crab with dealers of the finest
establishments on the island, enduring an unbearably strong odour
whilst watching the sunrise over Si Reh Island, is perhaps worth
at least one early-morning jaunt.
Thai fishermen from Phuket ply the waters of the Andaman Sea hauling
in 10, 000 -20, 000 kilos of fish in a two-week period. Stretching
well into the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Sea is one of the richest
marine-life regions of the world. Fresh seafood from this area is
not only shipped worldwide, but is also flash-frozen and canned.
Other than the large quantities of fish, the daily catch brought
into Sang Arun Pier include 500 kilos of shrimp, 100 -200 kilos
of crab and 500 -1, 000 kilos of squid.
Over one hundred fishing boats dock daily at the pier. Each boat
is at least 22 metres long, crewed by about eight to ten fishermen.
"The biggest catches are in Febr uary. November, December and
January are the worst" advises a tired- looking fisherman.
He is happy to go home after a two-week trip. But he only gets one
day to rest and spend time with this family. "Tomorrow, we
leave again. We go close to Burma" he says...
Dealers from all over Phuket throng to the pier before 6:30 am.
Nat urally the first ones to get there get the best deals. The unsold
catch is processed at the factory on the premises. Fish heads and
other discarded parts are ground into pig food, emitting an unbearably
strong odour. Amazingly, t wo men processing without masks don't
seem to notice the horrid smells emanating from the discards.
At other parts of the pier, where larger ships are docked, automatic
conveyor-belts are lowered into the ship's hold. Fish is transferred
via these belts into large containers. They are then transported
to various locations, not only around Phuket but also, all over
Several women sort the squid, crab, fish and shrimp brimming in
big plastic tubs. They laugh and joke, holding up a thin needlefish,
quickly tossing it in the unwanted pile. A fish market scene repeated
the world over.