Backtracking To Paradise

Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
Trip End May 02, 2013

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Where I stayed
Lien Hiep Thanh Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, February 23, 2012

After adjusting our itinerary to backtrack further south, we left Mui Ne in the wee hours of the morning. Our Phuong Trang bus picked us up on time at 1:00 am.  The trip was efficient given that there was little traffic on the road and we arrived in Saigon five hours later.  After eating a bowl of pho for breakfast we took a cab to the airport.

Our flight took just over an hour.  Destination:  Phu Quoc, an island off the south coast of Vietnam surrounded by white sand beaches with mountains and jungles inland.  We were travelling south to north in Vietnam but based on other tourists' advice we decided that we couldn’t miss this spot.  It’s dotted with some resorts and family-run guesthouses on the west side but much of the island remains untouched.  There are future plans for mega resorts and an international airport so we wanted to see it before the masses arrive.

We took a taxi from the airport to Lien Hiep Thanh Hotel, a friendly family-run resort on Long Beach.  At US$15 per night our clean, large bungalow with fan was a steal compared to our other beach destinations.  There were mini 'windows’ in the bathroom for ventilation but they provided us with a mosquito net over our bed which, along with insect repellant, was a must!  The beach was as promised – golden sand, turquoise water and gentle tides.  We had many meals in their restaurant with tables on the sand.

We were excited to be able to swim and play in the Gulf of Thailand again.  Mui Ne had been a bit of a disappointment because of the rough tides.  Jason enjoyed two hour-long seaside massages for 80,000 VND (~$4) each.

On our second day we took a tour of the many smaller islands off the south coast of Phu Quoc.  We caught some fish that were way too small to keep but the crew kept them anyway, which didn’t please us.  Two snorkelling sessions followed with the first being more rewarding than the second, but the tiny beach at the second site would have been the perfect place to stow away for all eternity.  We saw a fair number of fish and coral.  Unfortunately Jason’s ‘waterproof’ camera conked out and hasn’t yet recovered.  The last stop on the tour was Sao Beach, a beautiful long stretch of fine white sand and shallow water.

The next day we rented a motorbike with plans to see more of the island.  After sleeping in a bit and checking with the guesthouse staff for a suggested route, we rode off along paved, gravel and red dirt roads with the sun high in the sky.  We did a short hike to a ‘waterfall’ but with it being dry season, all we could see was exposed riverbed and a rock shelf.  We then headed north along what we thought would be the highway to more beaches.  Boy, were we ever wrong.  We passed one pepper farm after another and ended up at the entrance to Phu Quoc National Park, in the middle of the island’s north.  After realizing our mistake, asking for directions a few times and getting nowhere, we headed back the way we came.  The roads consisted of long stretches of paved highway that would suddenly stop, connected by winding and bumpy red dirt roads.  The tourist map left a lot to be desired.  A very sketchy road that looked more like a mountain bike trail finally took us to the waterfront for a quick dip and a few photos.  Although we never did end up seeing the beaches that we wanted, at least Jason had ample opportunity to practice his motorbike driving skills.  100 kms later we arrived back at our resort, sweaty, dirty, tired and ready to jump in the sea.
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Tricia on

Hi From the NVU!! Looks beautiful and so relaxing! We're jealous!!!

Shelley on

Looks amazing..have been sharing your blogs with my family. Think we will add this place to our bucket list! Thanks for your regular updates we look forward to them!

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