The flamingo in the middle totally photo-bombed this pic with his butt hole.
The flamingo in the middle totally photo-bombed this pic with his butt hole.
The sand fleas here are vicious. They will bite you while you’re walking on the sand, or even standing in the ocean. There are less of them on the docks, but you’re still not safe there. Bug spray kills the reef but if you don’t use it, they will bite the crap out of you, and the bites itch like crazy. The best thing to do is to use a bug spray without DEET, and wash it off before getting in the ocean.
To treat the sand flea bites, you should take ibuprofen and Benadryl, and apply hydrocortisone cream to the bites. Don’t scratch them, or they will get inflamed and break open, possibly leading to infection. Touch them as little as possible to prevent irritation.
I’m back in Roatan, the largest of the 3 Bay Islands off the north coast of Honduras. I was here with my mom and sister at the end of last March / beginning of April earlier in the year, and now I’m here with Ryan for 2 weeks. We’re staying at Las Rocas, which is on the northwestern end of West Bay Beach, not far from Foster’s, the place I stayed during my last visit. Our ‘Value Bungalow’ room at Las Rocas has a queen bed and a single bed, a mini fridge, wireless internet (for a flat fee of $35 per stay), and a bathroom. The bathroom sucks: the hot water in the shower smells really strongly of sulfur, like overpoweringly strong, and the toilet is constantly running. On the plus side, we have our own porch with a hammock and breakfast is included. Breakfast consists of unlimited coffee and a buffet of cereal, yogurt, pastries, and fresh fruit, plus a hot plate that changes daily (so far we’ve seen scrambled eggs with sausage, ham omelets, baleadas, pancakes with bacon, and the tipico plate – fried plantains + beans + white cheese).
The food at the Las Rocas restaurant is pretty tasty, and they have some good deals, like $7 margarita pizza, $7 fish quesodillas, an $8 chicken sandwich with fries, and a six pack of Salva Vida, the local beer, for $8 during happy hour.
Besides spending a lot of time lounging around Las Rocas and reading in the hammock while Ryan works, I’ve been sunbathing and swimming daily.
We also went snorkeling one afternoon. I’m hoping to get diving certified while I’m here, if possible.
It’s been very hot here. Internet weather sites say there’s a heat index of 105, but I don’t think it’s quite that hot. The evenings have been stormy, with thunder and lightning.
We haven’t seen any super great sunsets yet (I think the sunsets on Gili Air spoiled us), but we got some cool pictures anyway.
We made friends with a derpy momma cat, and have been feeding her daily. She’s very sweet and has the cutest tiny kittens.
There have been some reports of crime while we’ve been here. The other night 3 girls were robbed while walking between West Bay Beach and West End. The next day, a bartender/chef in West End was shot, but we don’t know how that played out.
Oh, also I got baptized. Yep, you read that right. I saw some other people getting baptized in the ocean in front of Foster’s and figured I may as well. Why the hell not, right?
For breakfast on Friday, April 1st (called Town Fools Day here), I had a seasonal fruit plate ($4) from Foster’s, it wasn’t very good, and coffee of course.
At 9:00am Elena and I went to Anemona Divers to go scuba diving! We did the Introductory Dive down to 20 feet for $54 ($60 without the Foster’s discount). First we learned the hand signs, then we took a boat to the beach in front of Infinity Bay Resort and practiced with breathing underwater. When we had that down we swam out to the dive site. It was incredibly beautiful, and so much fun! This is going to be one of my new favorite things for sure. We were under for a total of 40 minutes.
We went to Foster’s for lunch and I had nachos which were mega tasty ($6). The afternoon was filled with swimming and beach lounging. There are no cruise ships on Friday or Saturday, making the beach empty and peaceful. Later in the afternoon we napped. When we woke we went for a walk down the beach and down a road into the “town” of West Bay. We went to some shops and I bought sunglasses cause mine broke ($10), a beautiful beaded bracelet ($9), postcards (2 for $1) and soft serve ice cream ($2). I talked to some local ex-pats about places to stay longer term because I might want to come back soon.
The evening was spent swimming and having dinner and drinks at Foster’s. A little later we walked down to Bananarama to listen to their live music. Unfortunately, this guy also didn’t know Caribbean Queen *sigh*. We listened for a bit and gave him a tip, then headed back to Foster’s and I read in the hammock on the deck before bed.
On Thursday, March 31st, I woke at 7 and a few minutes later a man selling empanadas stopped by, so we bought 3 for breakfast for $5. They were just ok. Went and got coffee at Foster’s after that. I got too hot so I jumped in the ocean. It’s so nice to be able to do that!
Later in the morning we took a water taxi to the town of West End for $3 each. We walked around for about an hour. It was incredibly hot so we kept ducking into souvenir shops for the AC. Eventually we stopped at a restaurant / yoga studio called Earth Mama’s for lunch. I wasn’t hungry but Elena got a coconut curry chicken salad wrap with fried plantain chips ($7.85) and mom had a mimosa and a fiesta shrimp salad ($8.50). I tried mom’s salad and it was delicious! Elena also really liked her food, so definitely stop by this place if you’re in West End.
After that we souvenir shopped a bit. I bought a very cool wooden purse made on the mainland for $15 (down from $20) and a pretty abalone and bead bracelette for $6 (down from $8).
Around 1pm we took the water taxi back to West Bay for 50 limpiras / $3 per person.
We were hot and tired so the rest of the day was spent swimming and sunbathing. Somewhere in there I bought beers again from guy with the cooler from yesterday. I bought 5 for $10 and he told me “pumpkin, you hurt my soul!” I guess I drive a hard bargain.
Foster’s has been building this deck thing for the last 2 days to extend their dining area and they finished it tonight for their live music performance. For dinner we ordered 2 lobster specials which each had 2 lobster tails and 2 sides ($12 per plate). It was very very tasty and more than enough food for 3 people.
After dinner we had happy hour drinks while the band played. They were quite good and we all danced a lot. Towards the end of the night a young Honduran guy with a woman bought drinks for me mom and Elena. We thought it was just because they enjoyed the entertainment of us dancing, but in reality the man wanted to pick up on me and Elena. The woman he was with came over and told us all about it, she was pretty hilarious. Apparently the guy was a Honduran millionaire in the making looking for a gringo girl. I could have had a stake in millions of dollars worth of Honduran cows so I hear… no thanks, I’ll keep my fantastic gringo boyfriend and his cow-sized cat thankyouverymuch.
We had a very fun evening and danced until about 9:30. My feet were hurting by the end. The band didnt know Caribbean Queen, that was the only disappointment, oh well.
Tomorrow we’re going Scuba Diving!
We left San Francisco at 1:30am on Tuesday, March 29th, and touched our toes to West Bay beach around noon the same day. The journey, hazy in memory, consisted of 3 flights and 2 very brief layovers in San Salvador, El Salvador, and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. There was also airplane food french toast somewhere in there.
Upon checking in at Foster’s we found that we had been upgraded to a 2 bedroom, 3 bed unit with lots of stairs (we were upgraded because the gentleman who booked this room couldn’t do stairs and needed our single level cabana.)
Our room is on the second floor, has lovely views of the ocean from both the master bedroom and the upstairs loft bedroom, plus a full kitchen which is currently housing only my beer and protein bars, but may get some use if we happen upon a grocery store. The beds are comfy, there are lots of fans and 2 air-conditioners, the shower is hot and strong, and there are cute bats that live outside under the overhang of the roof. The very best part is, of course, the hammock on our deck. I’ve already logged a couple hours reading in it.
We had lunch at Foster’s when we arrived, I had a quesadilla for $6 and a lime margarita for $5. After lunch Elena and I spent an hour or 2 swimming down the beach quite a ways and walking back. The beach was really crowded with cruise shippers, who usually swarm the place from noon until 3 or 4 pm. When they’re gone it’s really quite peaceful.
When the crowds left we sunbathed for a bit then had 2 for 1 drinks at Foster’s before turning in early.
On Wednesday, March 30th, I woke up at 7 and took some pictures before having breakfast at Foster’s. I split a veggie omelet with mom for $6, and had coffee with refills for $1. The omelet was really good, full of spicy veggies and cheese, and came with potatoes and toast.
There are cute stray kittens here, we fed this one some of Elena’s breakfast.
Mom and Elena rented snorkel gear from Anemona Divers for $10 each. Anemona Divers is affiliated with Foster’s and they offer a 10% discount to Foster’s guests. We snorkeled for a long while at the southwest end of the beach. We got in the ocean in front of Infinity Bay Resort, but the best snorkeling was by the rocks beyond the southwest tip of the beach. I saw a lot of beautiful coral formations and some interesting fish that were new to me, but all in all the snorkeling was better on Gili Air.
At one point I was swarmed by a school of fish for 3 minutes, very cool!
After snorkeling I lunched on a protein bar and a lime strawberry margarita ($5) at Foster’s, then relaxed in the hammock and read while mom and Elena napped. The backs of my legs started to feel irritated and when I looked at them I discovered a sunburn
Back on the beach I bought 3 imperial beers for $5 from a man with a cooler who called me pumpkin. His deal was 2 for $5, but I promised to be a repeat customer if he gave me 3 for $5 and he did. The people here are all very sweet and friendly.
Back to the hammock with my beer and book while mom and Elena snorkeled again. I wanted to go with them but no can do with a sunburn :/
When they returned from their second snorkel trip we went to Las Rocas Resort’s restaurant for dinner where they give you one free teeny tiny cheese pizza slice from 4-5 everyday, plus 2 for 1 cocktails! 2 cocktails and a tiny piece of pizza is plenty of dinner for me, so it was a good deal.
Tomorrow we’re going to check out the town of West End, and on Friday Elena and I are going scuba diving!
We had an all day island boat trip on Thursday, February 25th. At 8:30am we boarded a little boat and cruised for 1 hour to Koh Preaus. There we snorkeled a bit, but it wasn’t very good. There wasn’t much to see plus the mask provided was very scratched up, and I kept getting stung by jellyfish so I gave up after about 20 minutes.
Next we boated for 30 minutes to Koh Ta Kiev. This island is blessed with a beautiful deserted white sand beach and a waveless ocean like a bathtub that is still waist deep even 60 feet out. We spent about 2.5 hours here swimming and sunbathing.
Lunch was included on the island. There was grilled tofu for me, grilled fish for everyone else, rice, salad, baguettes, and coke in a bottle, yummy!
The boat ride home took about 1 hour 20 minutes. From the boat we got a good view of some other islands and of Otres beach. It’s a very long deserted white sand beach. I would definitely check it out if I had more time here.
Mom and I had sunset drinks on Ochheuteal Beach (aka Guilt Beach). The cheap $1.50 cocktails and $0.50 beers are sort of the only reason to go to this beach, besides that it’s the closest to most hotels.
Tomorrow we are heading back to Phnom Penh and having our final dinner with our Intrepid group. Mom is going home in a couple days and I’ll be staying in SE Asia until March 15th.
In Kampot on the morning of Tuesday, February 23rd, there was a giant monsoon rain storm with super loud thunder and a lot of rain that flooded the streets for a while. Mom and I trudged on to breakfast anyway. I can’t go without coffee! We went to a guesthouse called The Magic Sponge. They had a restaurant/bar, free internet, and minigolf. Weird, I know.
We took a short 2 hour minivan ride to Sihanoukville. 20 minutes after leaving I realized I had forgotten my computer charger in the hotel room Alan, our group leader, called and arranged to have it sent to our new hotel on another van that was about to leave. It showed up in the afternoon and only cost me $2, how awesome is that? Thanks so much Alan!
When we arrived in Sihanoukville we had an included lunch at the Starfish Cafe which is part of the Starfish Project, an NGO that provides access to social services to Cambodians in need. I had some fantastic fruit salad with muesli and yogurt for $3.50. Best I’ve had so far. I also bought a shirt for $6.
In the afternoon mom and I went to Ochheuteal Beach which I have decided to rename Guilt Beach. It is very crowded, like Hawaii crowded, and you are constantly getting hassled and harassed by kids and adults selling crap. It’s not an enjoyable place to hang out, at all.
The next day, Wednesday February 24th, mom and I took a tuk-tuk to Sokha Resort’s private beach. We hung out there for an hour an a half till we were kicked out. The beach was nice, but definitely had an uppity resort vibe.
Next we took a tuk-tuk to Independence Beach which was AMAZING! It’s a lovely wide white sand beach with plenty of lounge chairs, very few people, and a nice restaurant where we had lunch. I highly recommend this beach. We spent the rest of the day there, swimming, sunning, and reading.
For dinner we went to a place called Moon Shack III where I had bbq tofu with fries, salad, garlic bread, peanuts, and 2 beers for $3! It was very tasty and so cheap because there’s a bit of a restaurant price war going on.
Tomorrow we are boating to some of the nearby islands!
We had a looooong travel day on Sunday, February 21st. First we took a 4 hour bus ride to Phnom Penh, the highlight of which was me eating a fried spider and washing it down with a beer mom bought me cause I earned it They taste just like weird greasy french fries. Kind of good actually.
We had a 3 hour break in Phnom Penh and mom and I spent it at the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club), an excellent but expensive place to hang out. We had a nice lunch of beers, rice, vegetable spring rolls, and free wifi. We were back on the bus for another 5 hours to Kampot.
On Monday, February 22nd, we went to nearby Blissful Guesthouse for breakfast. Finally, a big cup of coffee!
The rest of the morning and the afternoon was spent going on a tour of the Kampot countryside with an insufferable tour guide that could not stop repeating himself. First we saw some salt fields but there wasn’t much to see as they were flooded from the rain we had that morning.
Next we went to the Phnom Chhnork caves. Inside one of the caves is a well preserved brick temple that was built in the 7th century.
We had a herd of preteen schoolboys following us around during our hike to and from the caves. It was cute, but they were just following us around trying to be our tour guides so we’d pay them money. One picked me a flower, how sweet.
The view of the countryside from the cave was nice, but I’m sure it’s much better on a sunny day.
Next we went to a pepper plantation. Kampot is known for it’s pepper, and back when the French were in control every restaurant in France had to have Kampot pepper if the were to be consider of any quality. By this part of the tour some of us were getting fairly hot, hungry, and irritable. I tried to liven it up by eating a raw pepper seed off the plant. It tasted like pepper, surprise! Mom was so sick of the tour guide by this time she said “If I had a gun I’d shoot myself.”
Finally we went to Kep, a deserted old resort town that was quite the place for Cambodia’s rich back in the 50s. It has since been mostly abandoned and there are crumbling buildings everywhere. The beach isn’t very nice either, but apparently it never was. Back in its heyday white sand was shipped in from Sihanoukville to make its beaches nicer. We had a large included lunch here that was quite tasty. I spent the rest of our time in Kep reading in a hammock.
In the evening we went on a boat ride down the Kampot River and watched the lovely sunset.
Living on the river doesn’t mean you can’t have DirecTV!
Afterward I got a Seeing Hands massage for $5. Seeing Hands trains blind people to give massages and you can find one or two in almost every city. It was better than the massage I got in Siem Reap for sure.
On Thursday, January 28th, we had a delish brunch at Bread and Chocolate (I got an everything bagel with spicy chipotle cream cheese… it’s spicy!… for 1,000 colones) before hopping on the 11:45am public bus to tiny Manzanillo. The ride took about 40 minutes and cost 490 colones. It stops a lot; this is how locals get to the grocery store if they don’t have a car.
Manzanillo is a dinky 2 block town that is quiet and empty on the weekdays, and suddenly turns into a bbq beach party for locals from all over on the weekends. Manzanillo has about 200 residents and the town is centered around Maxi’s bar/restaurant near the fantastic white sand beach. There’s a school, a few sodas, 2 grocery stores, and a handful of places to stay in the town.
We stayed at Cabinas Faya Lobi where we had a double room with a hot water shower, mosquito net, communal kitchen and free bottled water for $25 a night. There is no internet in the town, only one computer with a dial-up connection that seems to be perpetually down at a Cafe Ooh-La-La.
The afternoon was spent swimming in the ocean and walking south down the beach into the forest on a trail where we immediately saw 2 howler monkeys!
Not far down the trail you can find Punta Manzanillo which provides a fantastic view.
After refueling at our hotel we headed to Maxi’s restaurant for dinner. I got the vegetarian caribbean plate of onions and peppers in a tasty sauce with cabbage salad, rice and beans, and fried plantains for 2,400 colones. It was way too much food for me. Ryan got a chicken with rice dish with salad and fried plantains for 3,250 colones. The 10% tip and 13% tax are not included in the prices. It was ok but we didn’t think it was worth the price when we can just use the kitchen at Faya Lobi.
On the way back we stopped at the grocery store to buy beer and a bar of soap (460 colones). The evening was passed drinking beer and playing chess. We met two other travelers from Portland who are on the first leg of what will be a 7 month trip. There was a rock ice limon beer left in the fridge so we tried and it was nasty! It tasted like a glass of salt water with lemon, or a tequila shot gone horribly wrong. Awful.
On Friday, January 29th, we hiked through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve. Here’s a post just on this mini-adventure: Hike through Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve
We were sort of worn out from our hike in the Reserve, so most of Saturday, January 30th, was spent hanging out on the beach. It’s much more crowded on the weekends because a lot of locals drive here to picnic, bbq, and enjoy the beach. For dinner we made guacamole and I chopped up a huge carrot to eat it with instead of chips. Not peeling or cooking the carrot turned out to be a mistake; it made me sick for days.
By Sunday, January 31st, Ryan’s toe that was bit by the ant had swelled up like a sausage (see the post about our hike in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve). He also discovered 4 massive mystery bug bites on his arm. I’ve never seen bug bites so big, they were like 50 cent pieces! Ryan was buying himself these mini ice cream sandwiches every night from the same store. The first night they cost 200 colones. Then they cost 300 colones. Then 350! That’s a 75% price increase in 4 days. That’s what happens when you shop at local stores; the prices are never marked so items end up costing whatever the clerk feels like charging you.
Sunday was our last day in Manzanillo. It was a good last day because we got to see 2 toucans from our hotel, as well as some kind of firefly-like bug at night!