Every year I look forward to the December-January period. It’s not because of the New Year celebration or the capitalist holiday known as Christmas. I don’t really enjoy going out for New Year’s eve nor do I wait for Santa to drop by to give me a present (anymore). I look forward to this period of the year for one very good reason: fishing with the Shimada family: a perfect combination of a road trip, bonding time, light fishing and heavy feasting.
A few years back I met this Japanese family through a childhood friend. Having lived in Thailand before, the party of five have an annual family reunion in the Land of the Smiles by going on a deep-sea fishing trip off the coast of Sriracha in Chonburi province.
Here’s a fun fact about Sriracha: thanks to its high level of Japanese industry this seaside town has the second largest settlement of Japanese expatriates in Thailand (behind Bangkok). Because of that there are several Japanese bars and even a Waseda Japanese cultural centre there.
Unlike my usual fishing trips their trips in the Gulf of Siam are extremely relaxing. We usually meet at around 6-8am, take that one-hour drive down to Sriracha, spend half-an-hour having breakfast before loading all our drinks and snacks onto the fishing boat. We then spend the day fishing for small fish while drinking and all day. It’s nice. It’s slow. It’s relaxing. To put it into comparison, my average fishing trip to Bang Pra would involve waking up at 4am, grabbing the first edible thing from the fridge, driving an hour and a half through the darkness, watching the sunrise and spending the entire day casting continuously in the sun before driving home to pass out. Yes. Fishing with the Shimada family is definitely a nice change.
For the five to six hours we spend fishing on the boat we only go after small bait fish so that everyone can have several catches for the day instead of waiting all day for just one rare big trophy fish. All gear is provided for by the fishing tour. We fish as a team gathering as much fish as we could but I would on occasions try to keep count of the number of catches by every individual family member. The Shimada family consists of five members, momma and papa Shimada and three daughters, Kana, Mao and Mei (oldest to youngest respectively). I have a knickname for little Mei-chan, it’s “Fishing God”. Mei is a natural with the rod and reel. Even the boat captain and men could notice that fact right away from the way she held the rod to her ability to perfectly time every single strike. Every few minutes or two she’d be hooking up more and more fishes. She’d easily out fish all of us on every trip and this year was no different.
The best part of it all was easily the dinner. After a relaxing day of fishing we head back into Bangkok, wash up and head on over to Don Don, an Osaska-styled Japanese restaurant in Sukhumvit soi 39. Though their specialty is in traditional Osaka delicacies such as monjayaki, okonomiyaki and udon, they make an exception for the Shimada family to turn the day’s catch into sashimi.
Our dinner that night consisted of sashimi, some cooked fish dishes prepared by mama and some pork shabu shabu (which I accidentally ate rare thinking that it was beef). The meal was also heavily accompanied by copious amounts of shoju and sake resulting in myself and papa shimada stumbling out at the end of the meal. Once again it was another awesome trip.
Well that is that for this year’s annual fishing trip.
Thank you Shimada family for the fun times!