Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Jul 7, 2006
|Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Friday 7th July - Friday 14th July
On friday we woke up early in Nha Trang, and caught two flights, from Nha Trang, on Vietnam's East coast to Ho Chi Minh City, then to Phu Quoc Island. Phu Quoc Island is Vietnam's largets Island and is situated in South Western Vietnam on the border with Cambodia.
We spent 1 week on the island which was really underdeveloped with very few tourists. It was lovely as it was so remote and had almost been untouched by tourism, we got to see how the real local Vietnamese people live without the influence of tourism. The island had a really basic infrastructure and only had a couple of town's and military bases on the island, most of the islands residents lived in ramshackled huts and buildings, made of tarpauling, metal, and palm leaves. The wealthier ones had concrete buildings.
After arriving on the island at it's small airport we were transported by a minivan to a hotel called the Tropicana Resort. We had not booked a room, but had made sure that they had availability as we wanted to see it before we would agree to stay there. The rates were not that cheap at $25 a night. It was around a 3* place, not very big, with breakfast included, but the food was good and the staff very friendly!
As we explored the island we realised there were only a few roads and very few of these were tarmaced. All roads were single lane, and most made of mud or stone. Our resort/Hotel was off one of the mud roads in the middle of nowhere, or so it seemed, but right on the islands main beach. It was quiet and private and we were given a detached bungalow with much needed air con. The bungalow was nice with a terrace and bathroom, but had a straw roof which we found over the week, housed many insects, spiders, birds and lizards. Our bed was nice though and enclosed with a mosquito net to keep the creepy crawlies away!
The island's weather was very hot and humid and it rained almost every day due to the monsoon season, which we welcomed as it helped to cool things down for a while! During our stay on the island we spent most of our days relaxing by our swimming pool, in our air con room, or on our beach, using our time to study towards our exams that we are taking at the end of our trip. Our beach was nice, and quiet, but there were massage ladys waiting on it every day trying to constantly talk us into a massage. One of our days we did decide to give in to them, and both had a nice massage which was cheap, about 2.00 pounds each for an hour.
One of our days on the island we decided to hire a moped and drove to the north of the island until we couldn't really go any further as the land was an army base which was forbidden to enter into. We drove through several villages and over rivers and inlets getting a little lost at times, but it was a real adventure as we didn't have a clue where we were going and there were so few people about. Every now and then we would stop and try and translate to a local where we wanted to go, and to ask them which way. This worked most of the time and we found our way back in the end.
We visited the main town once on our moped, it was pretty basic and smelt of fish as it was situated around the harbour. The markets were mainly selling seafood and there were very few shops around to buy anything in. That day we rode to a small lighthouse on a peninsular near the main town where we stopped to take a few photos and enjoy the view. We watched children swimming in a dirty area of the sea collecting plastic bottles that had been thrown into the sea. They do this to earn money, not to clean up the sea/beach. They are paid for the plastic that they salvage.
One day we did manage to find an internet cafe, where we could check our emails, we ended up getting stuck in there for half the day as it poured down with monsoonal rain, for several hours and we were unable to leave, as we only had a moped to ride on and we couldn't see a thing in the rain.
Our hotel provided us with free breakfast every day which was nice, most days we had the Vietnamese breakfast consisting of noodles in a vegetable broth it tasted yummy! We ate lunch and dinner at the hotel most days, as there really weren't any other restaurants around. The only others that we could think of would have been in other hotels, but there wasn't many other hotels around so we were limited. Luckily the food was good at our hotel and they cooked up all different types of seafood for us every night.
We enjoyed our evenings with a lovely family that we met on our second day there. They were a couple and two boys aged 16 and 19 and were from Switzerland. We spent most of our evenings with them chatting away, and playing free pool. One evening whilst we were all playing pool, some drunk Russian guys who had just arrived together at our hotel started to be a bit rowdy and kept trying to drink all of our drinks. We kept laughing their weird behaviour off saying no you can't take our drinks to drink, but they spoke hadly any English. They were rude and interferred with our pool games, moving our balls around and laughing shouting, one was so drunk he fell in the pool. The following night they were drunk again, and the same one, fell over the balcony and onto the beach which was about a 20 foot fall, he was ok luckily! Also that evening they were drunk again and really over stepped the mark by harrassing our friends the Swiss family, the same guy ended up so drunk he fell on Moritz the 19 year old boy who was in a wheelchair.
Both guys were gone the next day being told to check out which was good for everyone, they really showed themselves up and it was embarrassing for everyone at the resort, seeing them act like fools every night, they must have been in their mid to late 30's!
Another one of our days was spent hiring another moped for the day and exploring the island. This time we decided we would drive south to the southern most town on the island to check it out, but our journey was plagued along the way. It was only meant to take 1 and 1/2 hours on a moped, but we were rained on from time to time, which made the mud/clay roads even more slippery so we had to take it slow. When we finally reached ther town it was already starting to get dark as we had left a little late. We took some shelter from the rain in a small local shop for half an hour then decided that we didn't have any time to explore the town as we would have to turn back, so that we could return back before it got dark, as we had no light on us. We took it slow on the way back and it felt a bit eerie as the road was deserted and ran along the coast with the sea and beach to our left and small hamlets of ramshackled houses on our right. We did see the odd person or two but most people had escaped the rain.
We stopped on the beach to take some photos when the rain eased up, but as soon as we stopped the wind picked up and so did the rain again. We had about half an hours drive back to our hotel along the lonesome long straight gravel road and didn't have much drinking water left. Suddenly something started biting my leg, I was on the back of the moped and John was driving, so i was able to look at what it was, to see that on my bare leg, was a huge bug/beetle which had its claws firmly fixed into my leg. I panicked as i hate anything like that being on me at all, and shouted at John to stop the bike quickly, at the same time I couldn't help but shake my legs to try and get the thing off, but instead only my flip flops flew off! In a panic John had pulled the front brake, and the bike slipped on the gravel/clay and flipped over landing on top of the both of us and our legs. Shaken we got up and got the bike off of us. We were badly cut and bruised but luckily we were going fairly slowly due to the wind and rain so no bones had been broken. The red dirt off the road was in our cuts so we tried to use the last of our water to clean our wounds but ran out quickly, so we ran over to the sea to wash them.
We tried to wash all of the mud off the bike, to hide the fact we had had an accident, as the bike was absolutely fine, just dirty! Two local girls passing on a moped stopped to see what had happened and helped us clean up our bike which was kind of them.
When we got back, we were both bleeding so had to hide this from the bike rental people. We were glad to get back to our bungalow and shower off the dirt and mud and dress our wounds. John had two huge open cuts to his elbow and his leg which really wouldn't stop bleeding! I had been cut mainly on the bottom of my feet and heels, as when my flip flops flew off, I had tried to stop the bike on the gravel, with my bare feet. I also had a big black lump/bruise come up on my leg where the bike had landed on me. Apart from the bruising and cuts we were fine, and decided that we wouldn't be hiring any more mopeds here again!
We really enjoyed our relaxing but eventful week on Phu Quoc island and before leaving arranged to meet up with the Swiss family back in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in a few days time. On Friday 14th July we flew from Phu Quoc to Ho Chi Minh City, our last stop in Vietnam.