We get our snorkel on
03/21/2010 - 03/21/2010
After delaying several days due to Chop's cold, we finally fulfilled our promise to Toto (beach towel distributor, tour organizer, and evidently the only person on Phu Quoc with a phone that could make a collect call to an American credit card company) to go snorkeling. It seemed we had ended up with the most popular possible day to go, however, as we were packed with about 10 other people into a small van to make the (thankfully) short trek to the south end of the island. We stopped first at a pearl farm where a woman with a portable loud speaker squawked at us about pearl farming (at least I assume that's what she was yelling about; she was gesticulating with an oyster, but it was all in Vietnamese, so who knew). After that we were repacked into the van and eventually onto a boat much like the one we had taken squid fishing before. Once in the water, the snorkeling was pretty fine and there was a lot of sea life to watch in the coral reefs. Both Chop and I had some close encounters with corals (Dan says I should be happy that they were not fire corals) in the shallower areas, but it was well worth it. Between snorkeling locales we were served another seafood lunch, which was supplemented by some delicious crabs cooked in tamarind that the family of Vietnamese tourists who were in our group had picked up at a fish farm on the way out of the harbor. I actually didn't see one of them eat a single bite of it, but they kept pressing the rest of us to have more and more. I believe we may have actually violated the universal Mom rule of not swimming within a half hour of eating, because we were right back into our fins right after lunch.
At the end of the day we packed even more people into the tiny van (the second van was going to stop at Sao Beach on the way back) and headed back to our respective hotels, with a short stop at the "Coconut Prison" (did I mention that Vietnamese people love prisons?) on the way. Somewhat disgruntled that we hadn't spent this time on the water instead of heading back early for this unannounced stop, Chop and I skipped the prison in favor of (not surprisingly) the food stall across the street, where we also found (quite surprisingly) pearls for sale. Chop did some serious haggling and practically robbed the place of a handful of pearl pendants. We were "home" in time for one last beach massage for me (oh how I miss you, tiny Vietnamese ladies who giggle the whole time, making me suspect you are making sasquatch jokes at my expense) and a final Phu Quoc meal at the restaurant that makes me wonder why I am wasting my life living so far from an ocean.