Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Phu Quoc Island

Two nights and two days on Phu Quoc Island and about a day in Can Tho, the biggest city in the Mekong Delta, was a fitting start to our month long voyage up the country. We made some great friends, learnt a stack of Vietnamese and saw some great parts of the country. We were spoilt when it came to the food, eating mainly delicious seafood dishes picked from a wealth of Vietnamese knowledge; that being our 7 happy travelling companions.

The night bus arrived at around 8.30am in Rach Gia. We waited there until 1pm and then took a speedboat to Phu Quoc Island. After that we took another bus to our final destination, Thanh Kieu hotel. The trip was quite painful but we chose the cost effective option and must take the unpleasantness that comes with multiple buses, taxis and boats. We finally arrived at our hotel, with much joy, at around 4pm – about 12 hours after setting off from Saigon. The bungalows were simple and clean and generally acceptable for the price and most importantly were only a small walk from the beach.

We had a swim, in a virtually unoccupied beach, which was fun; apart from dodging the occasional plastic bag. Later we headed into town for some local fish, raw fish the highlight, and a stroll through the night market. We finished the night with an ice cream; a fitting conclusion to a long and tiring day.

We got up early the following day. Our plans to cruise the island on motorbikes were squashed due to the rain. We hired a van instead and the happy driver drove us around the island all day. We went to the local museum, a pearl farm, one of the biggest beaches in Phu Quoc, Sao Beach, a great little beach where we swum and each took turns kayaking. I managed to get sun burnt, the joys of a pasty white complexion, which prompted Celine to buy 81+ sun cream (yes, it does exist) which for good measure was whitening; a common addition to the Vietnamese brands. I can report that my complexion will be either a painful pink or a ghostly white for the remainder of the trip; an unattractive prospect but one I am used to.

Finally we made our way to a seafood market which Celine will show with some great photos in her following post. We were able to fit a lot into one day and could leave the island with a good impression of the place. We had seafood at the night market in town for dinner, eating an amazing noodle dish, Banh Canh. All in all a great day.

Phu Quoc was an enjoyable little island with a laid back atmosphere. It wasn’t touristy, at least when we were there, which for me is a big plus. The island is definitely still in the development stage with most of the roads dirt and full of pop holes. We would often go for kilometers at a time on a bouncy, bumpy ride where heads would unexpectedly slam against windows. It is definitely not the place for a bad back or a weak stomach. The locals on the island were warm and friendly; a common trend for all Vietnamese. The food deserves a big thumbs up – I mean seriously, who can complain about a mass of cheap, fresh seafood. Celine and I enjoyed ourselves on the island but the trip was made all the more enjoyable with a bunch of easy going Vietnamese showing us the way.

Tip: grab a bike and drive the island. There is simply no better way to see a place than on a motorbike and Phu Quoc island is best explored this way.

No comments:

Post a Comment