WARNING: I WOULD SUGGEST THAT YOU DO NOT VIEW THE TWO WORKSHOP PHOTOS IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH!
I donít know why this guy is teasing the rabbit with a snake Ė I thought he was going to let the snake bite the rabbit to prove that it was venomous, but he didnít. It was the snake that ended up dead - skinned alive - not the rabbit.
I took this shot in one of the many snake restaurants in Taipeiís infamous Snake Alley. Before the meal is served, the snake handler will put on a little show which is quite revolting (at least it was to me).
Firstly the handler will tie the snake around its neck to the steel post that you can see in the background between the handler and the blue rabbit cage (there is a skinned snake already hanging from it) and then whilst it is still alive, will run a knife down its underbelly and peel the skin back for about two feet to expose some of its internal organs (see first Workshop photo). Then (and this was the really revolting part) he will flick out the heart of the snake onto the table top, and whilst it is still beating, put it into a shot glass and offer it to one of the patrons who will swallow it whole.
Then with the snake still writhing, he will squeeze out its blood into a pint-size glass mug (see second Workshop photo) and pour into smaller glasses for people to drink whilst it is still fresh. The belief is that drinking fresh blood from a venomous snake increases male libido.
After that he will strip the skin down further and extract the yellow bile from the gall bladder. This is considered an aphrodisiac for both men and women, so is the most expensive item on the menu apart from the heart.
There are not a lot of photographs of this live snake skinning on the Internet because most restaurants in Snake Alley ban photography inside (I wonder why?). I took these shots with my camera hidden under my jacket, and then straightened and cropped the images with Photoshop.
Sorry the images are a bit noisy. They are old neg scans and I was using high speed film to negate the need for flash.
And in case you are wondering, no, I didnít eat the snake (or the rabbit).
Critiques | Translate
devimeuxbe (58557) 2007-03-25 10:46
This is a terrific vision and story. I know it's a traditional food so it's the live. Interesting also the story with the work shop. Drinking the snake blood is not my favorite drink. I already eat grilled snakes when i was in amazonia, but it's also not my favorite food.
have a nice day
wadd99 (141) 2007-03-25 10:48
Good job taking this shot. I actually seen this show several times in Taipei. I have never seen ny of these snakes bite or eat any of the rabbits or mice that are in the cages. I have only tried the cooked snake.
riclopes (35577) 2007-03-25 11:05
Quite revolting to say the least, David. I don't think I could watch, photograph, or even post such a scene, but your background as a journalist sure helps you. Again, this is a crazy world. May be they don't allow photographing because of the animal right societies...Excellent work not only from the usual great note, but for the three pictures that give us a good idea how this scene happens in a daily life basis. It's an example of what can be the shock bettween Orient and Ocident cultures, I guess.
kevin_2007_jeng (76) 2007-03-25 11:59
plimrn (21344) 2007-03-25 23:28
There is sushi restaurant here in SD that serves live lobster. I haven't been back to that place, and pretty much gave up on all sushi for awhile; although I still like poke, ceviche and Poisson Cru. Now I like my seafood fresh, but I just don't think it's necesary to eat things while they are still alive. Somehow it reminds me a bit of bullfighting. HLj, Pat
delkoo (68) 2007-03-26 5:00
very instructive photo reportage, even if I don't try to drink snake blood i prefer definitively red wine.
nevertheless it is an interesting photo.
kensimage (8565) 2007-03-26 23:08
That's a pretty disgusting ritual. Do you know if there are any voices within the culture speaking out for eliminating such activities, trying to change people's way of thinking, the way there are animal rights groups in the west? (Not that I always agree with those folks.)
As an aside, the colors are a little off, especially the skin tones, but that's no doubt due to weird artificial light.
Nice job with the hidden camera--we'll just call you the James Bond of TE. It's nice that you're bringing this stuff out, as more people should be aware of what goes on. Regards, Ken.
feather (51130) 2007-03-27 11:55
As usual you are educating us about little known practices (or places). It really is horrendous, although I hesitate to criticise another culture. Well done with all the "cloak & dagger" photography. It makes one think they know it is not PC if they don't allow photography.
fayeulle (27827) 2007-03-28 13:02
In Laos, I drank cobra blood cobra with alcohol of tiger testicles. In this kind of country it doesn't astonish anybody! Good reportage shot.
pboehringer (770) 2007-03-29 10:22
David, the whole thing is disgusting, but part of TE's logo: learning about the earth through photography. It seems to be a combination of old roman wisdom - games and food for the people - and old aztec - offering the still beating heart. As you alreday pointed out, the noise is a little bit disturbing but having in account all the limitation that your where exposed to it is great and very educational.
leo61 (0) 2007-03-29 15:42
Hi David !
Good shot and note in the sense of TE:learning about the world.....
The workshopphotos are interesting too.
Differrent cultures ,differrent rituals,and I accept these,but I prefer the French Merlot Iīm just drinking.
Thanks for this interersting post.
siolaw (38292) 2007-03-30 6:26
A good docu series of the snake eating habit...
Colors sharpness and framing are fine, workshops complete the series nicely, not for the squeamish of course... i would even try it!
AiresSantos (56155) 2007-04-02 4:00
Impressive pictures in the Workshop.
This one is also very interesting with an excellent note. Good perspective and colours
Thanks and have a nice week
pablominto (53746) 2007-04-08 5:41
Crocs and snake, so not my favourite creatures!
Thanks for throwing in this cute rabbit for counterweight, but maybe the all ears fellow isn't that happy...
MLINES (12516) 2007-04-14 5:22
Hi David. Good expose of this event still going on insuch a modern city. Saw this years ago and felt same emotion as you mention. TFS. Muray.
prumod (8300) 2007-04-24 10:27
wonderful experience you got! your warning attracted me to workshop... that's horible... it underlines that human being is the most cruel animal in hte world...
it's nice to get our knowledge update...
bibiweb (8) 2007-04-26 0:51
Excellent documentary shots and good qulity pictures taking into account the fact that your camera was hidden inside your jacket. I really find all this quite revolting but it was interesting to read and see that people around the world have quite different views regarding animal rights.
colinbrenchley (6431) 2007-05-09 8:29
Like dellkoo I think I'll stay with red wine! Interesting insight into local rituals - which is, after all, what TE is abll about!
Glint (6171) 2009-01-25 3:52
good reportage if somewhat stomach churning. But TE is about learning about the world through photography and you certainly can teach us something.