How would YOU catch squid?

3 04 2010

While on Ko Phangan it is difficult not to notice all the fishing boats that are catching squid around the island at night.  First we just saw the lights out at see and started wondering what those would be and as we found out they were squid fishing boats.

Most of the boats are fairly big with a couple of poles with big lights attached to them that can stretch out to either side of the boat.  The boat on the picture below only has one small light pole.  The smallest boats look like circular tee filters with a diameter of maybe 1.5 meters and are made of bamboo but the majority are 10-15 meters sturdy wooden boats

The boats all stay close to the shore during the day but as the sun is setting they start moving to the proper spots.  It seems like most of them like to fish about five hundred meters from the shore and quite close to each other.  After the sun has set they extend their light poles and turn on their huge lights.  From the porch of our favorite restaurant on Ao Mae Haad we could see about ten boats all lined up glowing in the dark.  The lights are to lure the squid to the surface where it is easy to catch.

There is a lot of squid available in Thailand both dried and fresh.  A lot of street vendors are selling dried squid in the streets.  We never tried it but I’m sure it is similar to the dried cod or haddock that we eat back home.

We have however had the fresh squid on numerous occasions and it has never disappointed.  It has been great with fried rice, fantastic fried but like the squid best in a hot Tom Yum soup …I just start drooling when thinking about it.

Hue and Halong Bay

8 03 2010

Last time I left you, we were on our way to Hue to see the Emperors Palace and the Purple Forbidden City.  In short, we only stayed in Hue one day and the palace and surroundings were a big disappointment.  I had read that during the Communist era most old ruins had been left to rot or at least not restored nor properly maintained.  The goal of the communist revolution is/was to build a new, better society that is not hampered by the burdens of the past.  The citadel was also heavily bombed by the Americans during the Vietnam was and maybe the Vietnam government wanted to keep the place in a bad shape as a monument of the destruction by American bombs?  At least the whole citadel was a bid depressive but at least we could see that now they have stared on a big restoration project so hopefully the site will be back to full glory in a few years time.

We took the fourteen hour sleeper bus up to Hanoi that arrived just before seven in the morning.  We moved quickly and booked a three day, two night trip to Halong Bay, departing at eight o’clock that same morning. 

Halong Bay is about 170 km. from Hanoi.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a beautiful bay with just under 2,000 majestic limestone-cliff islands scattered around the bay.  We took the bus to Halong City (with a stop in a souvenir store of course) and there we boarded a nice three star Chinese junk with eleven other passengers and a crew of six.


At first it felt like stepping into a ski-lift, going out on that boat.  At any one time there are about 300 similar passenger boats sailing around Halong Bay and they all have similar schedules so we could always see a few boats behind us and a few ahead of us, all heading in the same direction. 

But we were quick to shake of the ski-lift feeling.  Sailing around the bay in those old looking boats is soooo relaxing and nice.  The bay is very quiet and the scenery is so astonishing that you get the feeling of moving around in slow motion.

We visited a big cave on one of the islands, went kayaking and visited a floating village where the people live in houses build on rafts and underneath they have enclosures filled with fish, squid and lobsters that they feed until they are big enough to eat.

The first night we slept on the boat but on the second day we went to Cat Ba Island and stayed in a nice new hotel in Cat Ba town.  In hindsight we should have stayed two nights on the boat though.  The hotel in compared to how nice it was on the boat.

We were picked up the next morning and sailed quietly back to Halong City where we took the bus back to Hanoi (with a stop in a souvenir store of course).

All in all the tour was great, the scenery was fantastic, the food was good and the accommodation cozy and nice.  Our only complaint was our tour guide.  I’m not really sure that he knew that he was our tour guide, he acted more as a cowboy herding us, the money cows, from place to place.  He never told us anything interesting, never informed us of the schedule until the last minute and was just plain rude at times.  But he wasn’t enough to ruin a great trip though.  For people considering to take a similar trip I would recommend taking the two day one night on the boat option on a three star boat or even three days two nights on the boat option.

Phu Quoc island – Vietnam

14 02 2010

Yesterday we made it to Long Beach on Phu Quoc island in Vietnam.  We took a bus from Sihanoukville through the Vietnamese border at Xa Xia.  We had gotten our Vietnamese visas back in Bangkok so we had an easy time getting through the border control.  One tip for future travelers, we noticed that getting the Vietnamese visa in Cambodia was about $15 cheaper than in Thailand ($60 vs. $43 I think) so if you want to save a bit of money wait until you are in Cambodia. 

On the border we changed from our VIP bus into a mini bus and drove on to Ha Tien where we changed into a small boat that took us out to the island.  The trip was supposed to take five and half hour but ended up taking over eight hours without any stops to eat so we were pretty hungry when we got here as you can imagine.  You can find the updated route map on the right hand side of the website or just here.

The first impression of Vietnam is that everything seems more professional than in Cambodia, the restaurants seem very nice and our bungalow is nice as well so we have no complaints so far.  The money is funny since 16,000 Dong equal $1 US so we are pretty rich down here, just went to the ATM to take our 2,000,000 Dong :)  The actual notes look nice, they are made of plastic and are washable so they are very clean, which was not the case in Cambodia where you could hardly read some of the lower dominated notes.

We were very happy to see that the internet seemed to work perfectly, we could access WordPress, Facebook and any website that we tried.  I will therefore not be forced to blog through email until we enter China :)

We have been a bit under the weather the last two days so we haven’t been up to too much adventure lately.  It is nothing serious, just a minor inconvenience – it could be something we ate or something that is going around but we should be back on our feet tomorrow.