From Ho Chi Minh City, we made our way to a northern city, Dong Hoi. It is widely known as a town that hugs the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, which is one of the most common stops for visitors touring Vietnam, made famous by its numerous and beautiful caves.
We decided to pit stop in Dong Hoi for a couple days, and booked a room at the Buffalo Hostel. While drinking a couple Huda beers, playing pool, and trying to figure out what to do in this sleepy village, a guy working at the Buffalo asked us if we’d like to go on a squid fishing tour tomorrow in the evening. With nothing planned, we were pumped for this new trip.
Five o’clock the next day rolls around, and we are waiting for everyone to meet in the hostel lobby. They said we’d get to bbq on the boat, but we ate a little in case it was a late dinner. Finally, 45 minutes after the initial departure time, they asked if we had motorbikes we could ride to the boat dock on. Nope. So, Chase hopped on the back of a random guys bike, and I did the same on a different bike.
Turns out, no one knew where they were going. Chase went one direction, I went left, and the leaders went right…
We finally found each other at the dock, and hopped on a small fishing boat painted bright blue with the Vietnam flag proudly flagging in the wind. Not a single fisherman spoke a word of English, and our group of five could barely say thank you in Vietnamese. While we floated around and made our way slowly to the ocean, they grilled us a fresh squid in the back. And honestly, it was horrible. A bit too fishy for me, but we all tried.
It was a beautiful ride out to the ocean, watching the sunset and Dong Hoi light up at night. Once we found our spot, we anchored and they handed us a wooden stick and the line on a plastic roll to pull up if we got a bite. Very modern.
We all sat there, whipping our sticks around, and listened to Vietnamese pop. It was so much fun. Just sitting there, hoping that a little guy will bite, not knowing what the hell we are all doing.
Chase was the first to catch a squid, and the biggest of the night. Within a couple minutes he gets a fat bite, and our fisherman leader was as excited as a little kid on Christmas. I finally caught a little bugger, but it was little… very, very little. Still counts though!
We all chatted, listened to music, and drank beers. But, when you drink beers, you have to go to the restroom… They handed me a bucket I broke my seal. I got over the weirdness of that situation pretty quickly, it’s all part of the experience, right?
Anyway, we quickly realized this wasn’t an official tour. We later found out that it was the hostel owner’s uncle who happened to be going fishing that night. But, we were told we’d be home by 9… 11:00pm rolls around, and we are still out there, fishing, not catching anything, hungry, and wanting to go home.
They finally got the clue when everyone pulled their lines out of the water. Almost everyone caught a squid, with Chase winning in size catching the daddy of them all. All in all, the whole boat caught about 10 squid, some sword fish, and one huge angry crab (it actually got out of its bucket and was crawling around the boat…).
Once we made it home, safe and sound, we were starving and nothing was open. Dong Hoi isn’t known for its late night food…
Regardless of no bbq on the boat, it was a fantastic experience. The fact that it wasn’t a real ‘tour’ and we were simply fishing with some locals made it unique. I can’t say that I like squid sans seasoning, dipping sauce, and being fried, however.