Beautiful paradise island

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
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Friday, February 8, 2013

I had a nice journey over to Phu Quoc Island on the superfast ferry which had us there in no time, the only downside is having no view, and you can't get outside and you sit too low to see out of the windows easily. Anyway on arrival I made my way to Duong Dong on the opposite side of the Island but it’s only around 12km away and is fairly flat.  On arrival I met Angela who I met in Saigon, and enjoyed hanging out for a few days.

First stop after checking in was the beach, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The sun was just starting to set and it was just beautiful, colors of a red and orange sun, setting on a green, blue sea turning it purple on the waves, stunning.  We had a walk along the beach and could smell a barbeque which we headed for, wow… the most amazing seafood was being cooked up, calamari, scallops, fish, prawns, tuna steaks with spicy chili dips and sauces or fresh garlic, lemongrass or ginger, a delight to the pallet, I was in heaven!  We had the seafood 'special’ which was a taste of most things which didn’t disappoint, especially the scallops with spring onion and garlic, mmm.  On the way back along the beach we checked out Rory’s place which had a good vibe and was getting set up for party mode, but it’s been a long day getting here and getting set up for a few days, so just a couple of beers and an early night and relax.

Probably the thing I like most is that the sea is safe to swim in here, it’s calm and fairly shallow and no huge waves knocking you for six unlike other beaches I’ve been at.  We manage to find nice loungers and just have a chill out day which was well needed after the chaos of Saigon and the journey out of dodge with the millions of motorbikes leaving for Tet (Chinese New Year) which was chaos. 

We hired a motorbike one day to take a tour round the Island visiting Coconut Prison near An Hoi, and the War Memorium before landing on an obscure Buddhist Temple which looked as though it was just built and definitely wasn’t on the tourist map.  It was filled with only local people celebrating their New Year, the ‘year of the snake’, and we got a few strange looks riding up to it, everyone stared as it was a pretty rough road to be riding.  Next we ended up at a fishing port for a lunch of seafood Pho (noodle soup) which was very good and only around 15,000 VND (45p) full of fresh fish and calamari before riding out to Can Cun Bay and lounging at one of the big resorts for the rest of the afternoon, swimming in the sea and generally just relaxing, bliss.   

We headed out on a snorkeling trip firstly being taken by minibus to the south of the Island and got onboard managing to get a deck chair on the top for clear views for the journey out.  First we stopped at a floating fish market for supplies and done our own bit of fishing, and I was delighted to catch two fish (although pretty small) on a wee hand line, before arriving at our first snorkeling spot.  Now this was great, grabbing mask, snorkel and flippers and swimming out to the reefs, seeing all the colorful and patterned wee fish swimming all around you.  It’s a different world under the waves which is vibrant and alive and mesmerizing, every time I see it I am in awe.

Once back on board we’re served with a seafood lunch, tuna steaks, fried noodle with calamari, various veg, rice and soup, all tasty, I love the Vietnamese food.  Afterwards we get back out snorkeling at another island before heading back and being taken to Sao Beach which is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  The sand is like powder and looked almost bleached white, it’s the strangest texture I’ve ever encountered for sand, it made the sea took completely turquoise which was beautiful and I couldn’t resist getting in for another swim.  Ahh, and to top it all off a wee Mojito on the beach for the perfect end to our tour, and the day isn’t over yet, a quick visit to a pearl factory on the way back proves interesting, with an insight into how the pearls are farmed from the Australian owner.

I love the laid back feel of Island life which I thoroughly enjoy, and I love all the seafood which is at its best at the night market in town.  The displays are impressive, every type of seafood and fish you can imagine, there are sooo many places to eat all with their barbeques set up and in use as well as other options and we end up having the hot and spicy hotpot in which you cook your own.  We’re given beef and tuna steaks, calamari and prawns as well as noodles, veg and herbs, we’re delighted and enjoy cooking and tasting all the flavors, I think we’ll be back…

                                                   

The sunsets are amazing, every evening it sets right out to sea with stunning colors which I can’t take my eyes off, I could sit and watch the skies forever here I’ve never seen anything so perfectly beautiful before so much so that I find it quite overwhelming at times.  So all in all I have to say that this has been a most enjoyable trip and I might have stayed longer but my visa is due to expire which means I need to get going into Cambodia, I’ve managed out on the bike most days too for a quick blast, just seeing where it takes me.

So I left for the ferry to Ha Tien, cycling over to the original pier but I was told the port was another 5 kms along the coast which was fine as I had loads of time.  When I got there though there was no sign of a superfast ferry only what looked like fishing boats way along the end of a long jetty and when I showed them my ticket I was asked to wait.  Soon they lifted the bike onboard which I secured on and the guys even tied a hammock up for me for the crossing, lots of people were onboard already and all the hammocks were set up, I think it could be a fun trip!

Next thing everyone was put off the boat and put on the boat opposite which was already full, it was a struggle fitting us all in.  A large group of tourist has arrived and they were putting them all on my original boat… eh what about me?  Am I not a tourist?  Nope obviously not, I’m in with the locals which is actually what I love anyway, so for the crossing I sit on the back of a guys motorbike with my bike in front of me and we set off eventually.  Unbeknown to me at the time the superfast ferry had been cancelled (I think because of Tet) which is why the boats were soooo overloaded but no one informed me until I was on my way.

A couple of hours into the journey the engine in the boat stopped, after a few minutes everyone was looking around wondering what was going on?  5 minutes turned into 10, to 20, 30 until 40 minutes later it roared back to life, phew there was a huge sigh of relief onboard as everyone was starting to get a little tetchy.   Around 20 seconds later… dead, again and we were once again left bobbing around the Gulf of Thailand but this time people are starting to look around for an island to swim too!

Although I was able to keep calm, there are no life jackets onboard and there are hundreds of people, one guy beside me is Asian American but he’s really panicking and being sick, and as time goes on he’s getting worse.  I figure even if everything goes down, I should be able to make it to the island and there must be boats in the area.  After an hour the engine starts once again and the audible sigh this time was sheer relief, although now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we do make it to land which thankfully we do after around 6 hours at sea.

I’ve never been so glad to get off a boat in my life, but we’re not a Ha Tien, nope Ha Tien is another 20km along the road but it’s already dark, so I just stay putt finding a guest house nearby.  It turns out I am in Kien Luong, which is actually a nice fishing port and has lots of boats when we come in, it has a big market right in the middle and once I have a shower I head out for a walk around, I really enjoy markets and generally being nosey and the looks… well hilarious.  The square had big screens and everyone seems to be watching sports but the screen are on the buildings and everyone is sitting in the middle of the square watching it seems an odd set up.

I sit and have noodle soup for dinner in a tiny place where all the locals are fascinated by me, I talk to some of the children who practice their English on me which is nice before heading back to my hotel.  I have a well deserved rest, after a very stressful day.

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