Taiwan has an amazing range of outdoor activities. I literally went from the highest point of Taiwan to diving in the ocean in one week. Free diving is starting to gain popularity worldwide and Taiwan. Taiwan has some of the best well kept diving secrets in Asia. Scuba diving is fairly popular here and there are a lot of opportunities for tours and certifications, notably Fulong area in the north and Kenting in the south. Free diving, for those that aren’t aware is the practice of holding ones breath while diving as deep as possible with one breath.
It requires a calm slow heart rate, patience, a willingness to put on a already wet wetsuit in the damp Taiwan cold, and a strong set of lungs.
First you have to equalize the pressure in your head in order to dive the furthest that you can. In order to do that you must dive a few meters and plug your nose with a sharp breath until your ears pop. After that the pressure should relieve itself for the rest of your diving. I still have trouble trying to equalize, only being able to get down at most 6 meters, where good divers can go from 20-30, in one single breath.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from the few times I’ve tried, free diving is addicting. Once you have made your initial dive and follow around a fish for a few second, or find a good spot to explore, your heart starts to pound, and you have to go back up for air when all you can think about is getting back under the water.
Last weekend we made the trip to Keelung to do some coastal free diving. On what looked like a dismal day, the water was a completely different world.
I saw a blowfish for the first time. They are adorable when they get frightened and blow themselves up.
Apparently there is an animal called a pumpkin starfish. It looks like a bright orange rock, but it is really a fat orange starfish.
I shot a spear gun at a fish, luckily (for the fish and I) I did not hit it, but I shot a spear gun, it felt pretty damn cool.
We saw a plethora of sea creatures. But the coolest by far was the octopus. I have never seen a live octopus before, apparently they are really difficult to find because they change colors for camouflage. Something I never knew before. By chance, when we were getting out of the water, we heard the shout “Bāng wǒ” (help me!) and saw our friend struggling. I was a little concerned, but when we got back I saw he was holding something like a baby. It was an octopus. It’s legs were spilling out of his arms as he set it down on the coast and it started to change colors rapidly, desperately trying to hide itself in it’s new surroundings.
Well it didn’t work, we killed it. The initial puncture killed half of it’s brain, so half of the octopus turned a pale white, the other half was still active, so it was still changing color for a few seconds until another puncture was made. Then he peeled back the skin of the head/body and underneath was a sack of guts, I really don’t know how else to put it. A sack of guts. They were inedible so he tossed them back to the ocean and brought the body back with us. At the local market it could be sold for about 500 NT.
After a trip to the market and a hot dinner, we had a night dive.
Two flashlights between three people made navigation a little tricky but we loaded up with hunting gear with a mindset for a catch.
Lobsters are fairly over-fished so they are harder to find than crabs, but after an hour my friend caught maybe 4 large lobsters and around 10 crabs.
They were delicious.