Close to running out of time on our Vietnamese visa, we headed to Phu Quoc, an island off the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia. I mention the location, only because there is a political contest over control of this island….it is closer and once belonged to Cambodia, but Vietnam has ownership now, with a large military base on the island. A majority of the island is protected by a National Park in the north, however much of the west coast has been snagged up by high end hotels and resorts to capitalize on the beauty that is Phu Quoc.
While it is indeed still rainy season in Southeast Asia, we managed to have a mostly dry day where we felt compelled to rent a motorbike to have a few adventures. If you have visited any other city in Vietnam, you would know renting a motorbike could very well be a death sentence. Phu Quoc is the place to test the limit, and even though the “no rules” traffic laws still exist, there are far fewer numbers of other drivers on the road.
Our hotel offered a motorbike rental for $7.50 for the day, so we put our helmets on and headed for the gas station.
We put $5 of gasoline in, and were off to find Sao Beach. Kiki drove, and I settled in as the passenger. We set off south on a nicely paved road, along houses, rice paddies, and the sandy shore. This gentle road quickly changed from smooth concrete to red muddy, pothole laden terrain. Kiki was able to navigate well, while I admired the scenery complete with cows grazing beside the “road”. Being that it was rainy season, the road started getting a little muddy, not yet dry from the other days of recent rain. It was getting more difficult to navigate, the wind had picked up, bringing a line of dark gray clouds in with it. We were getting worried that if it did rain, would we be able to actually get back on this road? We decided to head back to town, chalking it up as an adventure, but ultimately not getting to our destination.
On the way back to town, we stopped at the Safari Bar to grab some lunch and end up chatting with the owner, Lee, about our mishap. He informed us that there was a mostly paved road down the center of the island that we should have taken. Doh! We fueled up (our stomachs) while the rain came down, and by the time we were finished with our lunch, we decided to have another go at the elusive Sao Beach.
The “mostly paved” road was only somewhat better than our previous red mud road. It was in the process of being paved in many locations, gravel road in some, and paved in very few sections. The drive consisted of changing lanes, driving on the opposite side of the road, dodging potholes and puddles, and honking. Repeat. Kiki did an amazing job. After an hour of so of this…..we finally made it!
So, here we are, finally at the beach, and it’s 4:30pm. While this seems early, and it is, you have to also realize that the sun sets around 5:30pm here. We basically decided we had 30 minutes to spend at the beach before we had to head out because there are no street lights and the last 20 minutes of the road was the most treacherous. We each took turns going into the water (someone needed to stay with our bag), laid down to watch the clouds, and left.
The drive back didn’t seem quite as long, but my tailbone definitely felt it the next day.
Here’s to adventures, even if they don’t always go quite as planned.
Where did we stay on Phu Quoc Island?
The A74 Hotel. It was on the main strip of road. We were able to walk to restaurants close by and downtown. The manager was spectacular and super helpful. He even made us breakfast super early in the morning before our SuperDong trip to Ha Tien.