Phu Quoc Island
Trip Start Oct 23, 2011
22Trip End Nov 12, 2011
The crossing was smooth, not a whole lot to see other than a few island groups and fishing boats. As we neared the island the numbers of fishing boats increased the waters. Phu Quoc is famous for pearls and the fish sauce produced on the island. We had been hearing about the fish sauce even in Cambodia so will definitely have to try some. Apparently the airlines will not allow it on board so we won't be bringing any home but maybe some pearls.
The dock was crowded with people and vehicles waiting for disembarking passengers, the ferry passengers pushing and shoving, everyone anxious to go ashore. We found our van, loaded the luggage and off we went on a new adventure. The road from the ferry dock to the highway was a deeply rutted dirt road that kept the speeds down to a few km per hour as the driver tried to avoid the motorbikes and the deeper ruts zigzagging his way along. It appeared that much-needed roadwork had begun and rumor has it that the island is geared to begin developing luxury resorts; glad I am visiting now.
Once we reached the main highway it was paved and in decent shape. Our hotel was about 6 km outside the coastal town of Duong Dong which stretches along the coast. We thought it would be a nice walk from the hotel but I have to mention here that our vans and buses have all been air conditioned, a life saver indeed and we are quick to forget what it is like outside the cool bubble or our air conditioned van. Suffice it to say we decided to take a cab the short distance into town for lunch.
The hotel lobby was lovely with the exception of a step that nearly everyone either tripped on going in or out; luckily no one actually did a nose plant but my friend tried to catch herself by grabbing onto the only thing close . . . an enormous ceramic vase atop a pedestal . . . it was a close call but she recovered nicely and the vase remained in one piece. This step was a continuing problem for just about everyone.
We all had different ideas of what we wanted from two days of R&R and were on our own so anything goes. I was looking forward to two days of not being hot, and a massage, simple enough. We did a quick tour of the grounds and walked to the beach – long stretch of white sand, breeze off the water and it was deserted, this could be heaven at the right time of day.
Four of us grabbed a taxi to town for lunch, deciding on Peppers Restaurant for what else, beer and pizza. I guess pizza could mean many things in Vietnam but it was actually a really good wood-fired pizza and satisfied everyone’s desire for "comfort food". Most of the restaurants are open-air and with the fan blowing it was quite enjoyable.
After lunch we hired a taxi to take us to the pearl farm south of town. We were given a little demonstration of how the pearls are formed and found then escorted inside where long counters displayed their extensive jewelry collection with many young ladies standing in wait to assist, one per customer. I browsed and finally settled on earrings for my granddaughters and found a necklace design that I liked but the chain was too short. I asked if they had the same design with a longer chain and finally was able to get across what I meant to one of the women who responded "no" but she would swap chains for me and deliver the necklace to my hotel that evening . . . customer service. I agreed, paid for the earrings and gave them the address of my hotel then had a moment’s pause wondering if I would ever see my rather expensive necklace. When did I become so untrusting or have I just gotten used to the way things are at home? I let the thought go.
While some looked forward to beach time I looked forward to air conditioning, it was still pretty hot on the beach from the afternoon sun so I opted out until later and instead headed up for a shower, a nap and finally getting back to my book "Catfish and Mandala". We stepped into the elevator, pushed the button, started up and the lights went out pitching us into complete darkness, the air conditioning shut off and the elevator stopped – power outage. For me claustrophobia was not a problem it was the instant hot and with four bodies in the small elevator cage it was clear that this was not going to be fun. We started pounding on the door and yelling to let someone know that we were in there and within a few minutes the lights came back on and the door opened. For the next few trips up and down to our 4th floor room we walked.
I took a nice warm shower, read and rested for a little while in the cool room and then went down to the lobby, caught up on email and walked around the grounds taking pictures. I ran into one of our group coming back from the beach and all I heard was massage on the beach 80,000 VND ($4) so ran back up to the room (4 flights), changed into my swimsuit and to ran down to the beach where I waited my turn. There were three young ladies offering 60-90 minute massages. I didn’t have to wait long until it was my turn and once she began her magic I think I quickly fell into a deep pleasure coma. The waves were lapping at the shore, a light breeze from the water washed over me, the sun was dipping below the horizon and my muscles were melting and I don’t remember anything until she asked me to turn over and then back into dreamland . . . does life get any better? When my angel was finished I stayed to watch the last rays of the sun dip below the horizon. Yes, this is just what I wanted from my R&R. Perfect Day.
I got the key from the front desk and she also handed me my pearl necklace, delivered as promised.
Everyone was feeling good after a relaxing day and fabulous massages so a few of us decided to dine together and based on our tour book, the Zen Garden was noted for the fresh seafood and sounded just perfect. We arrived by cab and were escorted passed the live fish tank to our table in one of two open air pavilions crowded with mostly Vietnamese clientele. We ordered a bottle of Chilean Chardonnay and perused the menu settling on seafood fried rice, prawns, pork ribs, crab spring rolls, Zen spring rolls. The meal was outstanding and the seafood fried rice fantastic, the best yet. I should mention that I am now totally addicted to the spring rolls.
Once again full belly, feeling quite sated I was losing interest in walking around the night market as were a couple of others so the taxi dropped those who wanted more shopping at the night market and the rest of us went back to the hotel. It was 10 p.m. and I was ready for sleep.