Tuesday, April 03, 2007

kommt das baby auch?

The other (yes, there was just one other) time we left our bungalow/beach was to go snorkeling/fishing/beach visiting on a mini adventure tour. We woke up early, walked out the narrow dirt track to the road, and got in a hot, cramped little minivan, where we were provided with snorkels and flippers. We were joined by Sven (an expat living in Saigon) and his hot Vietnamese girlfriend, who were staying in the bungalow to the left of ours, and driven about 20 meters down the road, where we got out of our minivan and into a slightly larger, more-than-slightly-hotter minivan with an middle-aged French couple. This minivan turned off the main road and drove down a long, narrow path to a field, where it then turned around and came back up. Then it stopped, for a seemingly interminable length of time with no explanation, until finally, a very large and cheerful German family--with 2 young sons and a 9 month old baby--came walking out of some bungalows and piled in. We picked up another German family (bringing our minivan total of persons under the age of 7 to 4) and then proceeded to our brightly painted tour boat. I'm no ageist, but the idea of a snorkeling baby in isolated Vietnam made me a little worried. We went out to some really pretty, tiny islands and dropped anchor to do some fishing. The boat's fishing equipment consisted of plastic rings with fishing line wrapped around them and a hook tied to the end. Little chunks of squid flesh baited the hooks, and the fishing line was dropped/tossed over the side of the boat and then wound back around the plastic ring. Will and I opted out of the fishing and hung out peacefully by ourselves on the upper deck of the boat, watching real fishermen in their extremely low riding boats. The other passengers caught lots of little fish that one of the boat dudes started cooking up for lunch as we packed up the fishing gear and headed towards one of the little islands to snorkel.

I absolutely love snorkeling. There were lots of cool fish and coral--although for the most part they weren't the brilliant colors of the fish and coral in Mexico and nature videos--and we got to spend most of the day in the water. None of the other people on the tour could really swim--most of them used life jackets (which are completely silly for snorkeling) and barely put their faces in the water--which made Will feel somewhat violently toward them. I felt the same way about a group of Koreans who, when not uselessly floundering around on their backs (the life jackets seemed to be a bit tough to manage), spent their time stabbing the huge black sea urchins with a wooden spear, snapping off their long black spines, and then bragging about how expensive sea urchins are in Korea. In between snorkeling, we ate lunch on the boat (the fish caught earlier supplemented with some other dishes), which was tasty if not completely sanitary, and explored a secluded little beach. Will got ridiculously sunburned and suffered quite a bit...but other than feeling guilty about his misery, I had a pretty much perfect day.

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