Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

We woke up early the next day and grabbed breakfast in our lobby. The interesting part was when we had arrived 3 days before the lobby was under complete construction. The tiles on the walls were being laid down, the wooden parts of the walls were getting varnished and the floors were still being put in. But by the time we were checking out, everything was complete, cleaned up and the restaurant was fully functional. It was amazing to see the transformation in a matter of 3 days.

The bus picked us up at 8am and we arrived at the border by noon. Even though we obtained visas beforehand (as you need to do because they are not given out on arrival) this was by far the longest border crossing yet. It could only be attributed to the man who was on our bus and did not have a visa. Technically you can get a visa on arrival but the restriction is that you must enter and exit through the same border crossing and you can only go to one destination. In this case, since our final destination was Phu Quoc, we could only go there, stay for 15 days, and then come back through the same border crossing. For this reason most people apply for a 30 day visa before hand, as then none of those restrictions apply. This man, who was at least in his 60’s, did not have a visa, which would not have been a huge problem had he not told the border officer he was planning to go to a few destinations. Of course the border officer denied him a visa, which understandably upset the man, but he complicated the matter further when he told the border officer that fine, he would only go to Phu Quoc. This wouldn’t really be very frustrating for us had not had a boat to catch. There was only one boat at a specific time and it was scheduled for 1:30pm. We were not the only ones getting frustrated. The older man kept talking to our driver, who kept telling him there is nothing he can do. After an hour he was somehow granted a visa and we could all go on our way. We made the boat with no issues.

We arrived in Phu Quoc with no issues and since we didn’t have a room booked the taxi driver took it upon himself to take us to his favourites (or the ones who paid him commission). We were not the only ones in the taxi however so we weren’t too concerned. We ended up finding a nice room and a couple from Russia who was in our taxi decided to stay there too. We ended up as neighbours. Although our guest house was not on the beach it was a very close walk. The only challenge was that Phu Quoc was not yet very well developed for tourists and therefore a lot of places we needed to get to required a scooter. That in itself wasn’t a problem but we didn’t have any Vietnamese Dong to pay for a scooter. We did end up finding a bank machine however and renting a scooter.

The next day we went for a drive around the Northern side of the island. The island was actually quite big and the ride north took around an hour. As I said before, this isn’t a developed island so most of the road was a dirt road. The advantage is there are a lot of deserted beautiful beaches. The weather was beautiful but we kept heading north as we had been told there was a light house we could see. We never did end up finding the lighthouse but the weather was turning cloudy and cool so we started heading back. That day we didn’t get the opportunity to take advantage of the nice beaches. That night there was a power outage. It would turn out to be something common in Vietnam. It lasted about an hour but it was literally pitch black.

The following day we went up north again but this time our only intention was to sit on a beach. The weather wasn’t as beautiful as the day before but not cold or raining. We found a beach which was around 5km long and completely deserted. For a few hours we just hung out, swam, read and played with some local crabs. During this time we didn’t see anyone except for a family of tourists who stopped by, took a look and kept on driving. It was paradise. That evening we had dinner at one of the food stalls at the night market. We had a fresh tuna which was grilled fresh for us, along with some steamed rice and veggies. It was great. After that we went for a coffee at a local café and once again experienced a power outage. It wasn’t a big deal however since the café had a generator. We booked our tickets from Hanoi to Bangkok for January 10th with Air Asia. It’s actually cheaper for us to fly back to Bangkok than to travel over land.

No comments:

Post a Comment