Day four of our Vietnam travels brought us to the sunny island of Phu Quoc. We weren’t sure what to expect; our acquaintances that had been to Vietnam before knew nothing of this island. Ideally we were looking for a tropical getaway where we could relax on the beach and do ‘beachy’ things (i.e. snorkeling, fishing, swimming).
Well…we found the goldmine when it comes to a location in paradise. If anyone ever tells you that Vietnam doesn’t have white sands, crystal blue water, and palm trees-they’re lying. It’s only short thirty five minute flight from Ho Chi Minh.
Phu Quoc is a small little island (actually comparable to the size of Singapore) in the Gulf of Thailand. The ‘essence’ of the island is comparable to Hawaii with a little flair from Asia. Similar to the rest of Vietnam, it’s poor. It thrives on its’ tourist industry as well as it’s world famous pearl farms. There are approximately 50 hotels on the island, and they’re booked to 90% capacity almost all the time. I suppose in a few years they’ll have resorts everywhere…I’d like to go back and see.
I enjoyed the fact that Phu Quoc has yet to be industrialized. It’s rustic in so many ways. Between the dirt roads, picking out the fish that you’d like to eat for dinner, and the way the Vietnamese live…it was a breath of fresh air.
We arrived in Phu Quoc at 11:00am in the morning and spent the day touring the island. The first few photographs are from an area right outside our hotel.
We were able to settle in to our new hotel, and then were driven over to Phu Quoc Pearl Hatchery. At the hatchery, we enjoyed learning how pearls are made and harvested. We also went shopping for custom pearl jewelry. I was amazed at all the different colors of the pearls! I was used to the traditional white, but the shades vary according to the interior shell of the oyster. We saw blue, black, yellow, orange, pink, purple and all colors in between.
We had a great time frolicking in the warm waters, drinking mojitos on the beach, and playing a few rounds of spades. At 6:00pm we headed back to our hotel in search of food and a little local shopping. Lucky for us, the night market was literally on our hotel’s doorstep.
The night market is one thing that is very hard to describe. Fresh seafood is laying in carts, tanks, and on tables everywhere. Tables and plastic chairs are set up on both sides of the road so close you almost touch the table next to yours. There are dogs laying around all over the place…not a care in the world. And the people…there are people everywhere.
If you have any reservations about eating ‘fresh fish’ at the night market, those quickly vanish by the sight of all the locals and foreigners chowing down, having a grand old time, on the little plastic tables and chairs. I honestly think I’ve been in Korea too long…I could not stop starting at the amount of ‘Westerners’ all over the place. If you wanted any sort of social scene on the island, this was it.
The first day we actually passed on the food and enjoyed looking at some of the items for sale further down the road…like these bottles of snake wine. That’s a real snake in there folks. One of the sales ladies told me that you drink a small amount before each meal, and it will help you with digestion. Ummm…no thanks.
As far as dinner goes, we ended up going to a sit-down seafood restaurant (more like a open-walled, two-story, garage with christmas lights for the main lighting). This is where we ordered our first fifty cent beers and enjoyed four separate plates filled with fresh tuna, steak, and chicken all for a total of ten dollars.
After our first day, we fell in love with Phu Quoc. We had plans to only stay for three days, then head down to Mui Ne for the last two. We decided to change those plans and were lucky to find accommodation to stay two more days on the island.
Day five consisted of an all day snorkeling and fishing adventure. Stay tuned!