Whale Island

Date: 17/05/2007 | Author: Dave

It was bucketing down as we left Saigon. Almost couldn't get a taxi for the five minute drive from Christine's house to the train station. The train was a nice way to get up the coast to Nha Trang. The soft sleeper cabins are four berth so we score privacy with our overnight comfort. We hear stories of the bus journeys here and they are scary.
Whale Island Resort mixed up our arrival day so we had to call them at 7am from the station. But, from that point on their attention to detail (and their resort) was excellent. Not on Whale Island itself but on the small island of Hon Ong positioned between the peninsular that juts outs 60km north of Nha Trang and Whale Island.
The resort calls itself a hotel run marine reserve. They have the potential for about 70 guests (all in bungalows) but we land there during the month when they are sometimes empty. It is truly lovely here and after a few days we are so relaxed that moving on from this place just seems foolish. They feed us well and I find it refreshing not to have to look at a menu for five days.
We spend a lot of time snorkelling. A boat leaves at nine every morning to a couple of sites with good corals but not a lot of fish. The local fishermen still use dynamite occasionally and of course they are anti the marine reserve. As I saw in my youth in Tasmania, it will take ten years before the fishermen realise that their fish stocks are increasing because of the marine reserve.
On our first trip out we detoured via a small fishing village. A great place to pick up some soft shell crab for dinner that night and partake in a spot of karaoke while we were there. Gabby was straight on the mic. Ella and Florence were shy for a minute and then completely took over.
We noticed on the dive board that PADI do something for 8-9 year olds called 'bubble maker'. Ella was keen to try as long as I could go too. It was a shoredive spending about one hour at around two metres deep in the marine reserve in front of the resort. The dive master, Fabrice, held Ella's tank from behind for most of the dive to help with her buoyancy control. I was there primarily as official photographer. She had a guided tour of the reserve and its inhabitants and did seem to be having a great time. Very relaxed and finning so well that Fabrice was occasionally using her like an aqua-scooter. Afterwards she was not as enthusiastic as she had appeared while we were down there. Youth of today, I don't know.
We spent two afternoons sailing on one of their Hobiecats. All three girls took it in turns to go out with me. I even managed to capsize once with Ella on board. It was impossible for me to right the 16 foot catamaran alone but we had flipped it in sight of the resort and two lads came out and gave me a hand. It took the combined weight of the three of us to get it upright. Ella loved the capsize. That day the wind was perfect and we could sail around the island in 35 minutes. I had a ball and Ella in particular wants to keep on sailing. She wants her own boat and knows that moving to Auckland or Sydney will assuage her desire.
Great resort, great family bungalow, great staff and a great five days. We have to leave here.... surely not!

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