Phu Quoc, A Beautiful Building Site

Trip Start Jan 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Thai Tan Tien Bungalows

Flag of Vietnam  , Kiến Giang,
Saturday, February 5, 2011

We wait outside our hotel not expecting our lift to show, but it does and we are finally on our way to Phu Quoc; what could possibly go wrong?

30 minutes into the journey, the ferry suddenly comes to a halt and no matter how much gas they pump through it, it doesn't move. We soon discover that the ferry is stuck on the sea bed! Turns out it was on its first voyage and the Vietnamese didn't realise how big the ship was. We start to look around for an escape back to the mainland but there was only a small 10 man life boat for a few hundred people. It takes 40 minutes for them to plough through the sea bed but we are moving again and arrive on Phu Quoc 2 hours later.

Phu Quoc is Vietnam's largest island and is tipped to be the next Phuket. 60 years ago it belonged to Cambodia and no one is sure of the correct story of how it became Vietnamese. It is said to be a gift from the French, but is rumoured to have been sold secretly by the Cambodian leader in a supposed democratic government. Either way the island is a giant, beautiful building site. Because of the hype, accommodation was short and we search for ages before settling for 2 expensive bungalows. Everything on the island is expensive so the budget will be blown over the next few days. That evening we meet up with our other ship mates and it is a funny mixture of English, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, Thai and American. We buy a bottle of whiskey and head for the beach, watch the stars and laugh.

We rent motorbikes for the first time and the 4 of us (Lee and Michelle) take to the open road. As the roads are still being made it was a bumpy 30km to our destination, a beach on the southern tip. We spend the afternoon splashing about with the local kids and hanging out with their families sharing food. The sun sets into the sea as we ride the 30km back along Long Beach. The days activities make up for the hassle getting there. In the evening we ate at Les Bistrot, recommended by Lonely Planet. Supposedly cheap this blew the budget somewhat but it was worth it to finally indulge in a main and a pudding (finally!).

Yesterday we explored the south so today we planned a route through the north of the island, 70km around bays and through jungle. Nico the Norwegian joined us on our epic journey through all kinds of terrain. At points we were sliding through foot deep sand and riding over unsupported bridges. After an hour or so we reached Vung Bau Beach, where we chilled for an hour or so before taking it in turns riding further around the coast and into Phu Quoc National Park. We booked our tickets off the island to Saigon hoping to make it there before Lara's birthday and had a meal with Nico as he was leaving in the morning.

Chilled for most of the day on Long Beach, outside our bungalow, and ran some errands that needed to be made before leaving the island the next morning. Ate at Les Bistrot again and had an early night, waiting anxiously for the hopeful ride to the mainland.

5/2/11 33 quid
6/2/11 43 quid
7/2/11 40 quid
8/2/11 26 quid

Ran over budget nearly every day as the accommodation is expensive during high season. 
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