Phu Quoc and the End of Our Travels

Trip Start May 02, 2007
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, January 11, 2008

Our first mistake was buying plane tickets back to Saigon from Rach Gia in order to catch our flight to Australia in time. It meant that we would have to leave Phu Quoc island a day earlier than we wanted in order to make the flight. Once we arrived on Phu Quoc though we did some ground work and found that we would be able to stay an extra day if we cancelled the flight and took a morning ferry back to the mainland on the same day that we flew to Australia (you following?). It would mean pushing it really close - it was a three-hour ferry ride early in the morning, then a six hour bus ride back to Saigon to catch our 21:00 flight to Brisbane. We decided to go for it. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that Vietnam Airlines allows you to refund an unused flight ticket for up to ONE YEAR; we would only have to pay a small percentage in administration fees. In the end, we did make it to the Saigon airport in the nick of time. After getting ripped off in Saigon by a taxi driver who drove the long way round to run up the meter (and in the process, making us almost miss our flight) we ran into the airport and got to the check-in just in time - in fact, they began closing shop as we were still getting our bags weighed.

Before all that excitement though, we enjoyed four lovely days on the beautiful island of Phu Quoc, with its white sandy beaches and amazing turquoise waters. We were again with Mark and Natalie, our last trip together before parting our separate ways as they were moving on to Cambodia, and we were heading to find jobs down under. We all checked into our rooms in a hotel right on Long Beach and settled in for some serious down time. That night Yvonne and I had a little visitor in our room. As soon as the lights went out and we were drifting off to la-la land, we were suddenly awoken by a horribly loud shrieking/chirping that sounded like it was right by our heads. I jerked up in bed, grabbed a headlamp and shone it through the mosquito net around the room. Nothing. As we lay in bed, we would hear this noise off in the distance, then, in response, the same loud noise from our room. It only happened once in a while and we were able to sleep through it mostly, but did awaken throughout the night by it. We were pretty sure it was a lizard or gecko of some sort, but we searched throughout the room the next morning and found nothing. Nothing, that is, until I opened the drawer of our armoire and saw something leathery skittle away to the back. I removed the drawer and found this huge brown/grey and red lizard stuck to the inside. This was the culprit! After the hotel staff finished laughing at us, they removed it by its neck and that was that.

Our time on the island was spent on the beach reading and swimming in the calm warm waters. We rented scooters one day and drove around the island on the dusty red roads and got covered in rust colored dirt. The north of the island is covered in dense forest and the tracks lead right through them. As we drove, we heard eerie high-pitched sounds coming from the trees. It was like a sound from a horror movie - Freddie Kreuger scraping his knife-blade fingers on water pipes. We realized it was crickets or some kind of insect. The island is rimmed with long stretches of quiet, untouched beaches, a couple which we stopped at to take a refreshing dip. We were actually very surprised at how little developed it is. We were expecting something quite different. We are sure, however, that this will not last too long. It is inevitable that the big resorts will, sadly, move in. After the scooting around for hours, and all with sore asses from the bumpy ride, we spent the next several hours playing cards. On my and Yvonne's last night on the island we all went out to celebrate Mark's 32nd birthday (he is 9 days older than me) with a nice dinner at a French restaurant on the beach. Once again, the evening was topped off with some competitive card playing before we said our goodbyes.

The next morning we caught the early ferry back to the mainland, took a bus to Saigon, and boarded a plane bound for Brisbane. It was the end of our eight months of traveling, from Europe through Russia, Mongolia, China and Vietnam. It was very anti-climatic. We were really sad to say goodbye to this lifestyle, but at the same time were excited about settling down again. We were missing the little things - the things you take for granted at home. A well-stocked fridge, home-cooked meals, cars stopping for you at cross-walks, and most of all, the English language!
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Comments

soobee
soobee on

phu quoc!
how come you guys didn't fly to Saigon from Phu Quoc?

I love Phu Quoc... wish I could have brought home one of the dogs.

vagabonderz
vagabonderz on

Re: phu quoc!
Doh! Why didn't we think of that?! Of course, we checked that out as it would have been ideal. All the flights were booked solid. We were there in peak season. We did have a flight from Rach Gia back to Saigon, but canceled it to get an extra day on the island. It was cutting it extremely tight, and we are VERY lucky that nothing went wrong along the way (there were so many things that could have!)...but we got our extra day!! :)

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