Scribbles in the Sand

All About My Life in Taiwan

The Jellyfish Sting

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Holding a sign for “Miss Hong Kong”, we collected Doris from the airport on Wednesday evening and headed home for some of Mei’s famous beef noodles.  The following day we headed to Sansui (san-shway) beach at around 3pm, when the sun was less intense. This beach is ideal for swimming as the seabed is sandy and devoid of coral. Even 30 meters out, the bed is still viable. Despite this, I still harbour an innate fear of some 15ft Carcharodon carcharias swimming up from South Africa and eating me. Having done some research, there are apparently no sharks, but some websites talk of Killer Whales. Further research tells me that these are Pygmy Killer Whales which don’t sound as scary and look more like dolphins. Whilst in the water we saw small flying fish that are apparently a common sight here. Not your typical flying fish, but rather small little flashes of light about the size of ones finger. Incredibly fast, they are almost impossible to see, reminiscent of sunlight dancing off the water.

As the sun began to set, we headed into the sea to wash the sand off. Suddenly a shriek of pain erupted from Fiona as I saw her fall to her knees, half crying, half laughing. She sat in the shallow water, 20 meters from the shore, with her bikini bottoms half way down her legs. The reason for her pain was a jellyfish that had managed to get right between her bum cheeks and sting her badly. I wasn’t very helpful in this situation, mostly laughing at her crouched, half-naked form.

Spraying Vinegar on the Wound

My initial thought was to pee on her, having seen the Friends episode, but at that moment in time my bladder was empty and it would have been an odd sight to see a man urinating on a crouched half-naked, crying girl. She insisted that the jellyfish was still lodged in her bikini bottoms but i assured her it wasn’t. Doris and Iona sat on the beach watching this pantomime, wondering what was going on, but mainly just taking pictures. Luckily we had some spray-on vinegar, and doused her backside in the acid. She hobbled to the car like an old man with giant testicles, with me having to make my maiden voyage in the van.  By the time we got home, she had developed large welts across her bum, about 20 in total, the biggest being the size of a 10 pence piece. For the past two days she has been in quite some pain, and it is a nightly ritual for some unlucky soul to rub cream into her derrière.

Today we’re heading to another beach, so we’ll be sure to pack more vinegar. This time I’m prepared for the treatment of jellyfish stings. Apparently their tentacles are laced with tiny sacks of venom, called nematocysts, which cling to the skin. If these sacs are ruptured they release their toxin, causing further pain. Treatment involves either vinegar, alcohol rub, or sea water, while cleansing in fresh water exacerbates the release of poison. A further step is to cover the area in shaving foam and scrape off the remaining vesicles with a credit card or razor. I hope I don’t get stung because it looks nasty as hell, but due to Fiona’s censorship, I’m not able to disclose this image on the internet, (until she goes to sleep).


Author: G.J

Neuroscience graduate from the University of Edinburgh. I have a passion for learning Chinese and finding resources to maximise efficiency.

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