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Phu Quoc Island, aka “F*ck off Island”

I suppose the title of this entry says enough. This wasn’t the highlight of the trip, by any stretch of the imagination. We left Saigon looking forward to some beach time, some time to just catch our breath, chill out and top up the tans that were gradually starting to fade from Ko Tao. More than that, we were expecting a beautiful island, similar to the islands of Thailand, but that’s not what was in store for us.

We left Saigon at 11pm on an overnight bus. There were no sleepers this time, and the bus proceeded to stop multiple times, and each time it stopped we were forced to exit the bus and wait until it was time to leave again…not fun. We arrived in Rach Gia, which was moments away from where the boat left for Phu Quoc. The weather didn’t look too terribly bad, but we had seen the forecast, and it didn’t look pretty. Still, weather is finicky and we were being optimistic.

We boarded the hovercraft and were told the journey would take 1 ½ – 2 hours. Then the Jackie Chan movies began to play, with the loudest Vietnamese subtitles possible. We put in earplugs and managed to get some shut eye on the way over, but awoke to the smells of vomit filling the bottom area of the boat where we were sitting. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and the seas were choppy, and for some passengers it was just too much. Fortunately we didn’t have too much longer to go, but the rain was getting heavier by the minute.

We docked at a pier, donned our ponchos, and made a run for the men standing nearby yelling at us to come to their guesthouse. We had done a little bit of reading in Lonely Planet as to where to stay, but we were at the mercy of these men, seeing as it was pouring down now, and we just needed to get somewhere. On the drive, we learned that a lot of guesthouses were closed given the time of the year, but they took us to one of the places we had read about, and we figured it would do- put it this way, it wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either.

Fortunately, after arriving, the clouds began to lift and give way to the sun, and we managed to walk on the beach. This was a good thing, considering I don’t think we wanted to spend any extra time in our room- our room that was damp, muggy, had weird nests growing down the wall from the ceiling, had no TV, no hot water, and appeared to be home to massive spiders! (I can handle all of the above, but when I find a massive spider and then lose sight of it, I don’t usually get a very good night’s sleep.)

The rain didn’t hold off for long, so we took to lounging in the hammocks watching the rain for the rest of the day. The second day dawned dry, but dark and threatening. Still, we made our way out to explore…by motorbike. This is where I learned the lesson that wet season and unfinished roads don’t really mesh. We managed to get to more secure ground and literally drove the whole circumference of the island. There were dry moments throughout the day, but most of the day was spent on the bike getting pelted by raindrops, wondering if we were going to stumble on anything worth seeing.

Unfortunately, Phu Quoc wasn’t all we expected it to be. It was one of those places that made me think, “We should just leave tomorrow.” Still, this was supposed to be some time for us to chill out, so we decided to give it one more day.

Fortunately, we had a sunny day on our last day in Phu Quoc, and some time on the beach was in order. We also managed to get an amazing sunset, and it felt like our time on the island wasn’t for naught. We left early the next morning, and the boat ride over was just as adventurous as the incoming ride, except with added vomit. And little did we know, we were in store for quite a journey that day…

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