Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Good morning, Vietnam!

I swear that will be the last time I say that. To reach Phu Quoc Island we took a ferry called the Superdong. That's right... the Superdong. The ride took about 2-3 hours. I spent my time on the ferry, as everyone else did, watching the movie XXX: State of the Union which, annoyingly as hell, was interpreted by a sole woman's voice; she was the voice-over for every single character in the film, man or woman. Good Lord, that was painful.

It had been raining the entire time we were on the ferry, but as soon as we made it to the island the clouds parted and rays of sunshine brightened our day, literally and figuratively. Sunny and I weren't too sure where we wanted to stay on the island. In the end though, we decided to stay at a hotel that we had read about, located in a secluded area in the northwest of the island. To reach our hotel we had to hire motorbike drivers to take us there. Before we embarked on our journey to our hotel, we inquired about the roads and if they were paved or not.

"Yes, yes," on of the drivers quickly responded.

I've should have known better as every question asked in Southeast Asia is answered with the word 'yes.'

"Excuse me, can you tell me where the toilet is?"
-"Yes."

"Which way is the toilet?"
-"Yes."

"Is the toilet this way?"
-"Yes."

"Or is it that way?"
-"Yes."

"So you're saying I'm surrounded by toilets?"
-"Yes."

You get the idea.

I guess sometimes I just want to believe (sorry I just finished watching the movie X-Files: I Want to Believe). Sure the road was paved for about a kilometer or so, but the rest of the 20 semi-odd kilometers were muddy roads as it had recently rained. All good fun, right? Naw, it was pretty bloody awful. I mean how much fun can it be riding on a back of a motorbike with your luggage, driving through 20 kilometers on slick, muddy roads.

Our hotel was pretty nice. The staff were very friendly and there was a restaurant with a great view of the beach. The beach, however, wasn't much of a swimming beach due to the coral and rocks. It was pretty though. The owner kindly told us about another beach where we could swim, just a short walk north of our hotel. The only qualm we had with our hotel was with how hot our room was. There wasn't any air-con, and only a fan. However, at night the power would go out, thus, no fan, which was the only thing making our room somewhat bearable to sleep in. Sunny and I would alternate taking showers throughout the day in order to keep cool.

What we really enjoyed about the hotel was its proximity to the neighboring beach that the owner recommended. Everyday I looked forward to our evenings at the beach for sunset. Despite the amount of rubbish we had to walk through to reach it, there was a nice breeze coming off its shores, the ocean was clear and warm, the sand was soft and squeaky, and the sunset was immaculate. I'm talking about the most spectacular sunset I've ever seen in my life. It was as if the sky was God's freshly painted canvass and the myriad of colors he used to paint it dripped and fell into the ocean giving it a beautiful, shiny multi-colored reflection.



After another restless night due to the heat, we decided to leave. However, Sunny and I didn't know where we wanted to go, and wasn't looking forward to the motorbike ride back into town. I could see that Sunny was a bit stressed or nervous about it. I told her not to worry and that we'd already let the universe know what we wanted and that it would sort it out for us. I really wasn't worried about it. I knew it would work out; it always does. The next morning we asked one of the employees from our hotel to call for some motorbike drivers to pick us up. The sky was getting dark and it looked like it was about to rain. Not good. Just then, a van pulled up to the hotel with a middle aged Australian man and his driver that he had hired for the day. Sunny and I exchanged looks and she quickly walked over to the Aussie and asked if we could ride with him back into town.

"No problem," said our new Aussie friend. "I'll have the driver take you to my hotel and you can have a look there, if you like? It's pretty nice, and it's right on the beach."

Again, the universe continually conspires in my favor during my travels. It always works out.

After we checked into our new hotel, with air-con I might add, we continued our tour with our new friend in his van around the southern part of the island. Along the way we stopped at Sao Beach. Besides Maya Bay, located in southern Thailand, Sao Beach ranks up there as one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen. It had clean, soft white sand, crystal clear blue water, and lush green mountains surrounding it. Paradise, indeed. Sunny and I immediately penciled in Sao Beach in our itinerary for the following day. That night we enjoyed yet another unbelievable sunset on the beach behind our hotel. It's just one amazing sunset after another here on Phu Quoc Island.

One day Sunny and I decided to embark on an epic journey on motorbike around the northern half of the island. We rented and shared one motorbike. Because Sunny had more experience driving them, she drove. Yes, I'm secure enough with my manhood to sit behind a woman on a motorbike. We drove across the middle of the island then up the island's east coast. I think we may have only seen one other tourist along the way. And we could tell by the expressions on the locals' faces that they didn't see tourists often. It was a fairly pretty drive with the blue ocean on our right, the green mountains on our left, and red colored dirt which covered its landscape in front of us, giving the island an interesting color contrast.

After driving over a few shady looking bridges, Sunny refused to drive over anymore. She would get off the bike and let me walk it across. The bridges definitely didn't look too sturdy, and if the bridge collapsed the result could easily have been fatal. We took a break at Than Beach, adjacent to the small town of Bai Thom, and weren't too impressed. We stuck around only long enough to refuel and rehydrate before continuing on with our journey.

As we circled around Bai Thom, now heading back south, I could tell that Sunny was getting quite comfortable with me on the back of the motorbike, as I noticed the kilometers per hour on the speedometer steadily increasing. It wasn't too long after, that I heard the most horrifying thing on can hear while cruising along on the back of a motorbike:

"Oh, shit!" yelled Sunny.

Out of nowhere an enormous gap in the road, both wide and deep, appeared just ahead of us. Not enough time to break, Sunny continued at the same speed and went for it....

"Zoom!'' the sound of our motorbike made as we went airborne.

I had one hand tightly grasping the back of my seat and the other firmly around Sunny's waist.

I'm glad our guardian angels hadn't gone on break that afternoon yet, because we definitely needed the strength of two to safely carry us over to the other side. Not to be a complainer, but they could have provided a softer landing. I seriously thought that I broke my wrist when we landed. Man, I thought for sure we were going down. We couldn't believe we cleared it.

Feeling physically and mentally drained, we made it back into town craving a cold banana shake. Sunny took a picture of us in the restaurant. We were both caked in dirt, giving us that fake tan appearance. Sunny laughed and commented how I looked like a soldier for Blackwater, a private military company. Man, what a day.

Sunny had a scheduled flight departing from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Bali, Indonesia in a few days, so we began discussing how and when we should depart the island. In the end, we decided to fly to Ho Chi Minh City, which wasn't that more expensive than if we traveled overland. I think the plane ticket cost $50. Plus, we wouldn't lose an entire day due to traveling. I also went on ahead and purchased another plane ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. It just made sense from a time standpoint, as I had a scheduled flight to the Philippines from Ho Chi Minh City for May 18th.

We spent our last day on the island at Sao Beach. It's just so lovely there. I spent my time relaxing under the shade, enjoying the view while writing and reading a little Jack Kerouac. Sunny spent her time swimming and taking a nap. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my day.

That evening we ate dinner where we ate EVERY evening for the past week, called the Ganesh Indian Restaurant. The staff there are so welcoming and accommodating, and the food--which is delicious and served in large proportions--is served in a timely fashion. Our last night there Sunny walked to the back of the restaurant and gave our compliments to the chef. So Sunny.



Later, we walked along the beach behind our hotel, savoring our last night on the island. We couldn't believe that we've just spent a full week here. Enjoying the view of the stars under the clear skies and the feeling of my clothes flapping in the wind, I expressed how my travels continue to feel like a dream. She expressed the same sentiment.

Next Stop: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

-Adam

2 comments:

  1. Nicely written! I would also rank Sao Beach as one of the best I have ever been to, even considering Fiji. I even made a website about Phu Quoc at www.phuquocisland.com, it would be awesome if you wanted to link it for people that wants to know more about Phu Quoc. I am trying hard to make it the best guide to the island and will soon go back there to take a lot of photos. Cheers. Anders

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, buddy. I'll check out your website.

    -Adam

    ReplyDelete