Our vacation in Phu Quoc was just getting started. We booked an all-day fishing and snorkeling excursion (only $15 dollars a person) around the south tip of the island. We weren’t sure what to expect, but were ready for the tropical adventure.
We headed out first thing that morning, and on the way to our tour boat, we stopped by another pearl farm.
It wasn’t long after the pearl farm visit that we arrived at our destination. Our tour boat was pretty small, and we had about twenty other people with us for the day. We immediately picked the ‘prime’ location on the top of the boat-halfway in the sun, halfway out of the sun. We could already tell it was going to be a hot day and lathered up the sunscreen. Thankfully sunscreen in Vietnam isn’t anywhere near the outrageous price that it is in Korea.
Our first stop was at a floating seafood market/home. Yes home. People actually lived in this tiny little shack that was floating on the water. Our boat provided a traditional Vietnamese lunch, but if we wanted something a little extra (fresh lobster, snail, oyster, etc…) we would have to pick it out and buy it ourselves. The cooks on our boat also stocked up on the sea urchin…something they would sell for about $1.50 as a side dish with the lunch.
This is one of the cooks preparing the sea urchin. What they would do is cut off all the spines, cut the urchin in half, throw one half in the ocean and keep the other. It was really fascinating. I honestly thought touching a sea urchin was a bad thing…but they were handled with bare hands. It will be a mystery to me.
After visiting the floating market, we tried our hand at fishing. The fishing poles were quite a bit different than we were used to. In fact, they weren’t even fishing poles; we used fishing tubes. Some sort of cut up squid or octopus was used as bait.
To fish ‘correctly’ you have to let the hook and sinker sink all the way to the bottom of the ocean, and then you reel it in slowly.
We were only about fifteen minutes into our fishing adventure when, I CAUGHT ONE!
Ok, so he was smaller than my hand, but I was still proud of him. We spent another fifteen to twenty minutes fishing (with no luck), and then settled down for lunch.
Ethan, Sandra, and I all tried sea urchin. Yes, we’re still living to tell about it. Would I eat it again? Sure…but I wouldn’t pay to eat it again. It tasted a little fishy with a slight ‘nut’ taste as well. Could have been the seasonings.
Derik would describe it to you as slimy, snot-like meat…and he wouldn’t be far off. There really isn’t much to sea-urchin, so eating just one can be accomplished in one bite.
The crew threw the leftover ramen noodles to the fish…it was fun to see dozens of tropical fish appear out of nowhere!
We snorkeled two locations, the second was absolutely picturesque. I honestly felt like I just stepped into a movies set. The water was blue, the palm trees were green, the rocks were jutting perfectly out of the yellow sandy beaches. Sandra and I eagerly jumped into the water to see the local ‘sea life.’ The boys joined us after a bit.
Our tour came to an end around 4:00pm. We were ‘blessed’ to stop by a fish sauce factory on the way back to our hotel. Why the sarcasm?
Because I’ve never smelled anything as terrible as fish sauce. Combine decay, sewage, wet dog, and dead fish all together and you’ve got something close to the smells that were coming from the concentrated areas of the sauce factories. Basically fish sauce is the liquid (aka ‘the juice’) extracted from fermented fish combined with sea salt. Um…yuck.
Check out these wooden huge bins housing the fermenting fish. Clear plastic tubes connected these bins to smaller plastic bins. These tubes would suck the liquid from the fermenting fish, and deposit it into the plastic bins.
If fish sauce isn’t enough for you, they also sell dried squid; by the dozen. Eat up!
We arrived back at our hotel just in time for the sunset. Thank you, local fisherman, for making my pictures that much more picturesque.