Drinking blood in Snake Alley

— 6:57 AM on June 11, 2007

On the second-to-last night of Computex, a few other show attendees and I hopped on the subway and headed to Taipei's Snake Alley. The alley is home to a variety of shops, from tattoo parlors to restaurants, record stores, butchers, fan sellers, and the like. But a place called Snake Alley wouldn't be complete without actual snakes, and therein lies one of the alley's many attractions. Some of the local establishments have cages filled with live snakes, and the shop owners make a show of killing and preparing them for human consumption in the strangest ways possible.

Feeling adventurous, another gentleman and myself volunteered to be guinea pigs for one of the Snake Alley pastimes: drinking snake blood. A crowd gathered as we paid NT$1000 (roughly $30) and the owner fished out a snake from one of his cages. He quickly knocked the animal out by bashing its head against a table, then he proceeded to hang it from the ceiling. A few camera flashes later, the snake was cut open and its blood was pouring into a pair of shot glasses.

My counterpart and I posed for a couple more pictures and quickly gulped down the peculiar drink. It had been mixed with some kind of alcohol, and setting aside for a second the fact that it was still mostly snake blood, it really wasn't bad. Think something with the texture of tomato juice and the aftertaste of Bourbon Whiskey.

The blood drinking over, the shop owner pulled out the snake's entrails and began to skin it, presumably to turn into some kind of dish. We opted not to stick around for that, though.

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