This morning we got up early to get ourselves together. We headed downstairs to the breakfast area. Yet again very interesting choices of food. From fruit to chicken to curry soup. We grab a few bottles of water from the 7-11 and wait for our bus. I neglected to inform you that there are 7-11’s literally everywhere. You can’t turn a corner without seeing one. We have one two doors down from us, which makes it easy to pickup whatever we need.
Our ride arrived at 8:30. We hopped on an open air bus/truck combo. The tour guide filled it with more people than could possibly fit, and their bags. It was tight.
The man says “five minutes to the boat”. In reality is was only two. We mull around trying to find the right group and boat. They give us a number and we wait. Then a man came running up and told us we were with the wrong tour company, even though they have our room number and they told us to get on the bus. They were scrambling to call the correct company. It was kind of a mess. They told us to cross the street and wait, “it will come soon” they said. “How soon,” I ask? “Ten minutes!” I highly doubted it. So we waited and I pick a pair of knockoff Ray Bans from one of the local tourist traps. Shockingly, the bus came in a reasonable amount of time. We squeezed on and away we went. We drove for under 10 minutes to a shaded park area. They dropped us off and told us to wait. Finally they started herding us to the longboat. We threw our shoes in a basket and climbed in. We rode for about 40 mins. The view was breathtaking.
First stop Hong Lagoon. No beach but we got to jump out and swim. The water was amazing. Warm, clean, and refreshing. We only got to swim for 20 minutes but it was enough.
Next we went to Hong Island. We landed at a pier made of floating cubes. They were hot to the touch, and I burned the balls of my feet before I could get my shoes on. They were also extremely hard to walk on. It was like my own personal game of Wipeout. They moved up and down with the water and slightly separated from each other when you walked on them. We got to the beach and I was quite content with laying in the shade while Denali snorkeled.
The water was beautiful but marred with lots of tourists. At least most of the people were quietly enjoying themselves. We had an hour and a half to ourselves on the beach.
Lunch was up from the beach on picnic tables. It consisted of green curry, a cabbage/ veggie mix, fruit, rice, and fried chicken.
After lunch we had another hour on beach, then back to the boat. The next stop was Paradise island. As we rode to the next island, Denali marveled at the low tide and what it revealed about the islands. When the water level lowers it showed the smaller, darker bottom of island.
Paradise island was small but impressive. There was a mini jungle with a path to a second, smaller beach. On the main beach, there is a huge rope and wood swing. We sat and relaxed on it, after deciding not to go into the water. Our guide informed us that there were a lot of sea anemones near the shore.
We got back on the longboat and made our way to the fourth and final stop. It was near a red island in open water. There you could swim and snorkel. Denali jumped in for a swim.
After getting everyone back on the boat, we headed for the hotel. We were exhausted. Denali picked a restaurant recommended by TripAdvisor. We haggled the price for a ride with a tuk tuk driver and made our way over, only to discovered we needed a reservation. So we walked back to the hotel. I was frustrated with Denali but we worked it out.
Before dinner we scheduled our trip for the next day with the same woman we used the day before. I don’t think I wrote about the experience of booking trips, but thats for another post. We had dinner at a mediocre restaurant across the street from our hotel and called it a night. To show how bad they were, I asked what was in their zombie, and the waiter said alcohol. When i inquired further, he got huffy and was rude the rest of the evening. FYI, I ended up ordering the zombie, but it tasted like a rum punch.
Here is a little side story. We met a single serving friend on the long boat tour. His name was Devon from Connecticut. I felt bad for him because he was traveling alone. So we engaged him in conversation. We come to find out that he wasn’t alone. His travel companion was not with him because she was bitten by a monkey and got rabies! She also happened to have had a bad smoothie on top of the monkey bite. He also complained that she constantly lost things, like her passport and the room key. Apparently he had had it with her. It was hilarious.