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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Phu Quoc Island

So after 2 big (for us) days of cycling, we arrived in Reach Gia. This is one of I think, two major ports with ferries to Ph Quoc Island. It is a cute Dockside town and we stayed at one of many nha nghis by the ferry terminal. There are market stalls along the river that looked fun but were shutting down as we arrived in town. The hotel sold us tickets for the Super Dong which is a fast ship/ferry which goes straight to Phu Quoc Island leaving at 8am the next morning. The tickets were 350,000vnd and then I think 50,000 or there abouts per bicycle when we arrived at the ship the next morning.
About 2 hours later we landed on the island. Now, my understanding of politics is limited but apparently there is some argument between Vietnam and Cambodia as to who owns Phu Quoc especially considering the attractiveness to foreigners (seemingly Russian predominantly but there were a lot of wealthy Vietnamese tourists too). We met a couple from the UK too but more about them later. The ferry terminal was about 20 km from During Doing Beach which seemed to be where most of the action was. There were of course moto-taxis, motorbike rentals and mini busses to take us there but we chose to ride. There is a lot of construction so the roads are good I'm some places and really rough in others but we made good time to the place we wanted to stay.
We read a scathing review of the Moon Resort (also Luna Resort) that said it was close to camping and that it wasn't worth the 15USD but that it had beach access so we thought we would check it out. It has become my impression that people who write reviews on TripAdvisor are expecting 5star accommodation from budget venues because we got a beach hut to ourselves complete with fans, mosquito-net, shower and lockable doors for 200,000vnd a night. We really liked it and although the staff weren't particularly friendly, there were three guys who really made an effort to be helpful and we ended up staying there for 6 nights. No complaints especially considering the price and beach proximity! It was low season so the water was really rough but the weather report said that it was going to be nice on the Saturday so we booked a boat tour for fishing and snorkeling for that day.
The English couple we met came snorkelling with us too. Ms D and Mr C are from Northern UK but are living in Hong Kong teaching English and Sport. Hearing about our hut on the beach, they came to visit us a couple of times and took us to a bar owned by a Britt with the biggest gekko I have ever seen living behind the bar. We were taken from our hotel by bus on our snorkelling day, to the boat, then out to two spots for snorkeling where John and I played with hermit crabs and checked out the reef. We had a bit of time on the boat, including lunch, then an hour at the beautiful Sao Beach before the bus dropped us off at our hotel. We had pizza for dinner (250,000vnd so more than our accommodation but totally worth it). Our time on During Doing beach was mostly beers on the beach, eating out and relaxing.
We wanted to see the rest of the island so we cycled to a home stay in the hills called Pepper Farm only 16km from the Moon Resort. On the way we found what used to be an air strip but is now used for commuting. The trucks used in construction around the place are turning the dirt roads into mud pits so the airstrip provides an easier thoroughfare. Cows roam freely with wooden bells around their necks. We cycled up into the hills and arrived at the farm around 3pm. Jenny and her husband Trung own the farm and there are several huts amongst the pepper trees. Their daughter An and her fiend took us to a creek so that we could go for a swim. It was like having pixie guides because they skipped on ahead of us giggling while we got stuck in the mud and shrubs. The swimming hole was nice and we didn't find any crocodiles.
The next day, we cycled through the hills to a beach to the north east of the island. It was a 32km round trip and the rainforest was incredibly beautiful. We didn't realise at the time that we a would have to make the trip again the next day to get to a different ferry terminal this time going to Ha Tien. Unfortunately, the road through the national park has been closed and as a result, the second trip was tougher through rain, mud and sand to get to the ferry but we made it with 2 hours to spare and were off to Ha Tien.
xox Jane

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