Photographer's Note


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).

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1231 W: 108 N: 2568] (7797)
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