Scorpions For Supper & Tarantulas For Tea
And no I assure you this isn’t the food that we serve in the training centre’s canteen; but rather the bizarre and eye opening food on offer at Beijing’s infamous snack street, Wangfujing.
Having not even been in China a week, the TTC team are excited and eager to show the interns a fascinating area of Beijing. The evening out is also a chance for us to kick start the scavenger hunt we have designed- which is a challenge for the interns to capture snaps of a list of sights, during their month stint in Beijing! And most importantly, a chance to see if our Senior Programme Coordinator, Peter Davis, chronic arachnophobia, is man enough to accept his dare to eat a tarantula…
As we all piled onto the crowded subway, interns chatted enthusiastically about what they planned to eat and knowing that they would get extra points on the scavenger hunt for being photographed eating the most adventurous things- serious competition to get those points was in the air! ‘Yeah, yeah, alright, we’ll just see who is so confident when you’re face to face with a scorpion!’
We arrived at dark fall. Hundreds of red lanterns hung from every nook and cranny, illuminating the steamy food alleys and creating the perfect oriental atmosphere. The bustling street was jam packed with masses of tourists and just as many locals, crowding round in disbelief; cameras clenched at the ready to snap away at the brave westerners chomping down on the strangest snacks!
Even though I’ve visited this street so many times, the sight of scuttling scorpions and the over powering stench of sticky tofu always makes me squirm and well…feel a little queasy! However, it appeared that I wasn’t the only one, as I caught shrieking interns jump back as one hawker pulled out a live scorpion from his pocket. He let it run up and down his arm, stroking it affectionately as though it was a pet!?! Amazing! (But gross)
The whole evening was a grand success with interns going all out for the sake of the scavenger hunt. They really did go for it! Snakes were slurped off of sticks, scorpions were swallowed down nicely, crickets were chewed and starfish were chomped! No crazy creature went amiss, all was consumed and more frighteningly- rather enjoyed!!
But nothing topped my personal highlight of the evening- seeing our lovely Pete accept his fate and crunch down on a hairy tarantula! Bless the poor man! You could see it was his worst nightmare coming true! He battled through though (well, he nibbled a leg). But no doubt his story will live on as a gruelling tale of him forcing down the entire thing…Don’t worry Pete, your secret’s safe with us ; )