We paid $20 US each for a Red River Tours snorkeling trip to the south islands. Pick-up was scheduled for 9:00 am but they were 30 minutes late. This is not unusual as the tours pick-up at many different hotels and they tell everyone they will be there at the same time! We have learned to add +/- 30 minutes to everything! They picked us up at Green Travel who actually called them when they were 30 minutes late.
We took a bus to An Tho and walked to the harbor there. There were fish drying in the sun everywhere.
We traveled by boat to Fingernail Island called Hon Mong Tay by the locals. There was a lot of brain coral and the snorkeling was OK but not great, we did not see a lot of fish.
We were invited to line fish off the boat. Harold actually caught a fish but it was a good thing lunch was provided! The boat had two decks and all the foreign tourists were on one deck with all the local tourists on the other. I don’t know if this was deliberate or if is just worked out that way.
Lunch on the boat was local and very good. Each table shared soup, rice, morning glory, tofu and some egg sandwich things. We got a lot of rice and as usual the local tourists ate it all the foreign tourists did not. An expat living in Ecuador once told us that the locals there find it very odd that tourists eat all the fish on their plates and leave some of the rice. Living next to the ocean the locals will always leave the fish and eat the rice first.
We made a second stop at May Rut Island. The snorkelling was better here and you were able to go to shore by boat. A number of families did, as on many of these trips a lot of the local tourists don’t snorkel and don’t appear to know how to swim. Along our route we passed groups of boats with people living on the water.
We returned to the fishing village by boat and took a bus across the island. We made a stop along the way by agreement of all in the bus at a fish sauce factory. Phu Quoc is world renowned for it’s fish sauce. You can get factory tours and a Vietnamese family on the bus really wanted to stop so they could buy gifts of fish sauce for their family and friends.
We went into the factory and did a very brief tour. The fish sauce is made by fermenting small fish and rice in large vats. As you can imagine the smell is not overly pleasing! The family in question bought a whole case of fish sauce! I hope they were taking a boat home! I can’t imagine having a bottle of fish sauce break in my luggage!
Our last stop for the day as Ba Sao beach it’s a bit out of the way. Less developed than many of the other beaches on the island with lots of white sand. It only had one very basic hotel and a small market. We bought a dried version of a banana pancake for 20,000 VND which was very tasty.
We got back to our hut too late to watch the sunset. We walked back to the Duong Dong street market where we had a Shrimp Hot Pot in a very busy restaurant. Normally I avoid seafood on these trips but in Duong Dong they were taking the seafood right out of the tanks and cooking it.
We walked around the night market and bought an incense burner we had regretted not buying in Hoi Ann. It was cheaper too! We negotiated a bit on the price because it’s expected I can’t bring myself to bargain too much. I expect the person selling it can use the money. I just hope the money actually stays with the locals.
Even though it was dark we walked home. There were lots of people around. Plates are very popular at the more local restaurants. You buy a bunch of different plates of food for 30,000 VND each with friends and share them around a big table. We passed several restaurants some were completely full, others were completely empty!