Let us go Gulf

Trip Start Nov 03, 2009
Trip End Jul 15, 2010

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Flag of Vietnam  , Kiến Giang,
Monday, February 22, 2010

We're still in the Gulf Of Thailand amazingly, this time on Phu Quoc otherwise known by it's Khmer name of Ko Tral. An island in very close proximity to the Cambodian mainland but claimed by Vietnam for its strategic militarily position, and let's face it Cambodia are unlikely to mount a fight to take it back. 

For many years there have been army bases on the island and some have taken over prime stretches of gorgeous beach sadly, but it's a huge island and one worth investigating on motorbikes in-between obligatory beach time.
At first glance it's clearly Vietnamese (the gold star red flags flying everywhere were kind of a give-away) and far more advanced than Cambodia is in terms of infrastructure, although as we were later to find out the roads not necessarily so. In-fact quite the opposite.

It seems that no matter what we do we keep ending up back in the Gulf of Thailand somehow, by my estimates this is the 5th island we have stayed on in that area not to mention quite a few mainland coastal spots and smaller islands that we swam over to or kayaked too to snorkel off of. It's fair to say we are tiring somewhat of beaches (as hard as this is to believe) and need something different at this stage. It's probably the reason we only stayed on this island for 4 nights in total and left Phil and Simon to finally do their diving course! Snorkelling here wasn't the greatest either.

We hired bikes out and amazingly nobody crashed as most of the roads are of the unsealed variety and some just simply large pieces of loose stone which is akin to driving on a ice rink. The maddest day we had here was driving a round trip of 40 kms north to a few secluded stretches of beach with literally nobody about at all which made a decent change from the predominantly French tourists on Long Beach. En route my navigational skills failed hard and we were totally lost in a rural village of sorts. Thankfully a lovely Vietnamese women took pity on us hopelessly lost tourists and drove us back to the main road. This was an experience in itself, as the trail we took consisted of sand and dirt tracks and I was well into driving on it through the jungle (think mountain biking but with a 125cc engine instead of pedal power). I almost wanted to ditch my glamorous pillion passenger and have another go sans Sofie! Phil gave her 20,000 dong as thank-you which the lady was most grateful for, from her face you could see we had made her day with this most modest of tips. Vietnamese people are great.

The food wasn't amazing here or perhaps we chose the wrong spots along Long Beach to dine, that was until we went to the night market (which was seriously excellent for grub and sadly shut on our remaining days on the island) we were pretty disappointed in the meals we had, even the seafood was pretty average. Ah well, can't have it all.  

The rest of our time here was quite lazy, bumming around on the beach, playing pool or watching a few films/shows downloaded from the net. It's so hard (not to mention expensive) to do absolutely every single tour and trip at each place we've visited and sometimes you miss out on something that "you absolutely have to go to" due to limited time, energy or funds. Phu Quoc didn't really have much I wanted to see or explore in the end, so it wasn't a difficult decision to leave for the hustle and bustle of HCMC.

We left for HCMC to rendezvous with a wayward Don AKA Mr Cribbins! and left our travel cohorts for the last month Si and Phil to their own devices for a week. We planned a trip further afield in Nam (more of that later) before we had to be back in Bangkok on the 8th March to fly out to Indonesia.
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