Pride comes before a muddy fall...
Trip Start Jan 17, 2010
40Trip End Jul 17, 2010
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The further south in Vietnam we went, the harder we found internet access to come by and the less reliable the connections and opening times. It's been quite nice being cut off in some ways though; I'm now writing this from Phnom Penh in Cambodia, where we arrived today via a spectacular journey up the Mekong Rover from Chau Doc in Vietnam.
Our plans for diving and snorkeling on Phu Quoc Island were thwarted by a combination of poor visibility and extortionate cost; that, added to the worst sales pitch in the world from one of the dive instructors at "Rainbow Divers". At the end of a days hard toil round the Island on a motorbike (I'll come to that later), we stopped off at Rainbow Divers - "number one diver centre on the Island" according to the increasingly unreliable Lonely Planet Travel Guide - to be greeted by a half-drunk northern chap of approximately the same height and age as me
Instead - tempted again by traffic-free streets - we resolved to hire another motorbike. That night there was an almighty storm, the kind that wakes you from your sleep and shakes the phlegm from your chest. The morning dawned bright however, and we set off on our merry way to the island's deserted northern beaches. The roads quite quickly morphed into dirt tracks, but with little traffic and beautiful scenery the driving wasn't too taxing. After a splendid day of beach-bumming and riding on the open road we stood at one of those go-back-the-same-way or try-a-different-route-home kind of crossroads
Before I go on I should say that I’ve been quite proud of my new-found biking skills, and I’ve been quite quick to let people know about it: bragging emails to friends, links to videos on this website etc etc, rooted I think in long-suffered feelings of inadequacy on the four-wheeled front. Well my skills weren’t much good as we slid to a gradual halt in a mass of mud-sludge, wavered slightly, sank a little, then toppled gracefully over gently to the right (from speed of about 1kmph). My protruding leg (which I had hoped would act as some kind of stabilizing tripod) slipping uselessly away bambiesque as we succumbed to our fate. Aside from being caked in mud, from head to toe, we and the bike were absolutely fine. I took some solace in watching the locals perform the same maneuver with equal inadequacy, and then pushed the bike (heavier than they look) through the mud for around a kilometer until the road improved; Kanan trudging behind me retrieving her occasionally stuck-in-the-mud flip-flop. Via swing bridges (waiting for which felt like being on a formula one grid), helpful locals and improved roads we got back after dark, tired and weary (having also suffered our encounter with Dive Master Doom) and splashed out on take away pizza and beers
We spent a much quieter, less eventful day before our anniversary sunbathing and relaxing on the beach before hiring a bike again and heading south on the much better paved roads to the best, most secluded beach on the Island for our anniversary celebrations; later watching yet another stunning sunset from our patio hammocks on the beach finished with a meal in the plushest place in town.
After six days of doing not much of anything on Phu Quoc we left reluctantly and headed back to Can Tho, a small city in the Mekong Delta region of Southern Vietnam. We’d been there a week previously, but due to some basic traveler errors on our part (our brains still lying in the sun on Phu Quoc Island, perhaps) we found ourselves there again after a full day taken up making not very much progress on our way to our ultimate destination, Chau Doc, for the boat to Cambodia; as a bonus though we managed to visit the early morning floating markets before taking the bus to Chau Doc. The floating markets are quite a sight; our boatlady whizzed us around the amazing floating stalls of pineapples, jack fruits and watermelons - literally boats piles high with fruit
So we arrived in Chau Doc yesterday, our last day on a trip to Vietnam which has left us charmed, despite the traffic chaos. Our guide book was riddled with warning about various scams, thieves and people looking to rip you off at every turn, but our experience of Vietnam was very different – the negative limited to one obnoxious woman at a petrol pump on Cat Ba Island, and Kanan soon set her straight. Actually we’ve found the people immensely friendly, charitable and welcoming, not to mention delighted at our feeble efforts at their language.
Roughly two weeks in Cambodia lie in wait before we cross over to Laos for a further three
Love to everyone
Jo and Kaa x
PS Thanks from both of us for all the Anniversary emails and messages! With little else to do on the Island we indulged in a bit of wedding reminiscing!