We had scheduled a flight to Phu Quoc Island for this morning and headed to the airport amidst the traffic and chaos. It was a nice sunny day and we were excited to have our last couple days on the beach for our entire Asia trip.
Turbulent plane ride
The plane ride, however, was nice until the landing. It was an hour flight on a prop plane, seating about 40 people. On the way to the island we overshoot the runway, go out over the ocean, and bank back very sharply for the landing. No big deal. Then, as we are descending, rather quickly I will add, the plane lurches down, then sideways, the up, and all over the damn place, as we were hitting some turbulence. The closer to the ground the worse it seemed. About 50’ above the runway we hit another pocket of rough air, and the plane landed with only its left wheels on the ground. We rolled down the runway precariously in this stance for what seemed an eternity, until the other wheels came down and all was under control. For someone who hates flying (me), this was enough!
The beach bungalow
We stayed in our nicest-location place yet – a bungalow right on the sand, with nothing but a few beach chairs and a couple palms between us and the sea. It was beautiful. We took a long walk, swam, played volleyball, had yummy mojitos and mango smoothies, and enjoyed our evening.
Dinner, and yes, another adorable puppy
For dinner we ate on the sand on these unstable plastic chairs (Griff almost went over backwards several times, hehe). There was an adorable puppy playing with another dog, providing entertainment for our evening. The sky was so clear we could see the milky way. And the meal was cheap, what a great night it was.
We also met this guy, maybe in his 50s or 60s, traveling alone. For those who know Dave from beach frisbee, he reminded us of him. He had a lot to say about many interesting topics, but being alone as he was, he wanted to hang out with everyone. A fun guy, and we would see him a lot as it turns out, over the 2 days of our stay.
Another snorkel trip
As we have been doing in most beach places, we signed up for a snorkel/boat ride around the southern islands off Phu Quoc. The wind was stiffer here and a swell brewing, making the boat ride more interesting (and more terrible for some, one poor lady was throwing up over the side on numerous occasions throughout the trip).
Our first stop was fishing. Not with reels and rods or nets, but with a line, a hook, some bait, and our hands. We took the spool of line and drop it over the side, waiting for something to bite. The silly thing was that the current was so strong, and oddly moving the exact opposite direction was the wind, that all of our lines got crossed, tangled, and messed up in every way imaginable. When 30 people trying to dangle line off the side of a boat that is doing 360s every 5 minutes due to the current and winds, its inevitable that things get messy. Despite the chaos, Griff, and a couple others, caught some fish (which we later ate for lunch), and maybe some coral.
The boat took us to one snorkel spot, but a man complained, as we were not in the leeward side of the island and the wind was blowing like crazy, stirring up the water. Due to his complaints the boat took us across the inlet to the leeward side of a nearby island and let us snorkel there.
As I was cold, and spoiled by Thailand snorkeling, I did not want to get in the water unless it was going to be good visibility. Griff reported back that no, it was not all that great. So I chilled, Griff snorkeled. We got to know another couple traveling from the US on our boat too. Turns out they are doing a similar Asia trip to ours, but in reverse. We shared information and amused at the two older ladies who just never seemed to pay enough attention to realize everyone was waiting for them to get back to the boat.
Soon the boat took us off to another snorkel spot, i.e., back to the one we had left about an hour ago, and let us go in again. I skipped this one too, and then we were off to have lunch and snorkel at our last stop on the boat. This time, we were anchored in deep enough water that I could (finally! my favorite part of these trips) jump off the top deck of the boat. As this one was not as high was the ones before, I even took to standing on the handrail before jumping to get an extra 3’. I love it. The other couple joined us too, and we had a great time. Once wet, Griff and I decided to do a little snorkel here, and saw some interesting bright green corals we had not yet seen.
Lunch and the beach with all the puppies
Our boat returned to the dock around 1pm and we all got back into the bus and were taken to south beach. Drinks were a bit overpriced and mango smoothies were not on the menu, so we occupied ourselves with the 10 most adorable puppies yet. At any given time you could find at least 5 of them in a pile playing. When they would notice people were near, they would run up with tails wagging so hard they could barely stay on their feet. They were so affectionate (among the most we have seen yet), and at oldest 3 weeks.
The “surprise” on the way home
After south beach, and again waiting for those same two ladies who never had a clue, we thought it was time to go home. We were told our tour would have us back around 4:30 to the hotel (give or take 15 mins as we all came from different hotels along the beach), and it was 4pm. Knowing the ride was at least 30mins, we settled in after a long day.
And then we pulled up to the pearl factory. Oh no, not this again. Hehe, they made us all get out, listen to how the pearls were made, and then shooed us inside to purchase things. Alexes – the girl from the USA – said straight out to the lady showing us how the pearls were made, “well they’re not real”. It was amazing, we loved it. And it was true, these pearls were seeded with a rather large ball made of oyster shell. Thus, only the outer 30% of the pearls they were selling were actually “real”. And, what really pissed off me and Griff was the fact that they would shuck the oyster to show us the pearl inside, and then throw it away. No one got to eat the thing, just wasted. Griff said they’d make more $ setting up an oyster bar on the side. True and true. Despite this ridiculous stop, I found a necklace made of oyster shell that would have cost be a lot more to make myself in the US, so we made a (gasp) purchase.
And then again, we waited for the two ladies who took their time shopping. We got back to the hotel after 5:30, over an hour late.
Last night on the beach
After the late drop off back to our hotel, we played some volleyball – and like the night before, none of the lazy guests at our hotel wanted to come play. So we had a one on one game, of which the outcome of 4 games was a tie.
For dinner we walked down the beach the other direction, saw the lovely New Zealand couple we had met on the boat earlier that day, and headed back towards our hotel after our meal. We sat out by the restaurant at our place and You Tubed images of huge waves in the Perfect Storm, as that was what we had both read recently.
Vietnam Day 11: Back to Saigon
We woke up early this morning in hopes of playing some beach volleyball before our noon flight back to the mainland, but the ominous sky would not allow. About 10 minutes into our breakfast the clouds unleashed some pretty heavy rains and winds. Apparently the weather had been like that for weeks, and yesterday – the day of our boat tour – was the only nice and sunny day in a while. Our flight was uneventful, except some turbulence which of course make me all shaky and nervous; Griff didn’t even notice. Sighhhh.
Back in Saigon we checked into a different hotel – this one was a much better value for the same price. And then we continued our search for lacquer paintings – a Vietnam speciality, a rooftop bars. We also saw some very tiny and very cute kittens at the local market.
On the way around the city, looking for dinner and roaming the markets, we saw outside the opera house a video of a orchestra, most likely performing live inside at the very moment. Tons of motorbikes had pulled up to watch, and as the traffic went by not one person was watching the road in front of them – all heads were glued to the TV screen. It was really fun to see all these people so curious/interested in the show. As it will turn out, on our flight to China the next morning the Czech Orchestra, which was indeed performing, will be on our flight.
The next morning, we are off to Hong Kong!