New Year on Phu Quoc

Long have I wanted to visit this island, of which the reputation is on par with paradise itself.

As a big fan of islands myself, it was with grudging resolution that I stopped my bike in Ho Chi Minh city back in March 2015 (gasp! Almost a year already!) to look for work as my pockets were all but empty of Dongs.

I’ve patiently waited until I could get more than a day off in succession and a few Dongs to spare and finally, New Year 2016 (our New Year, not Vietnam’s) offered this opportunity.

On the morning of the 31st, I got my tired ass up at 5 am and drove to the airport in streets relatively empty of traffic. Beforehand, I long debated taking a taxi, but I didn’t feel like being scammed and/or late.

The flight was short and I was able to catch a few weird dreams before the landing.

When I walked out of the airport I was greeted by green mountains all around. On my phone’s map, it said that my guesthouse was about 10 km away, and for 15 minutes I debated walking it just to stretch my legs, but then I called the guesthouse and was picked up by a smooth 50-year old man with sun-tanned skin, a smile and a face that was once ravaged by some sort of skin disease, giving him a look of copper moon surface.

The guesthouse where I stayed was a few meters from the main street and a 5 minute walk from a beach, lodged in a small alley just wide enough for a taxi car. It’s called Anthinho and I can now call most of the staff my friends. I recommend staying there for anyone who doesn’t mind dorms.

As soon as I set my bags down I met a German guy named Ben who invited me to go out with him that evening for New Year’s eve party and I accepted. I then changed into a swimsuit and went straight to the crowded, nearby beach where I found an empty sunbed for $10 and where I finished reading American Gods and slept a lot.

That evening we went to Rory’s, a beach bar which was packed with drunk travellers. I don’t remember much except going back to the hostel to find a couple having a go at it in the dorm room, but I was too drunk to care and passed out one second before my head touched the pillow.

The next day I nursed a hangover on another sunbed all day.

The third day I rented a motorbike and drove a little bit up North on the West coast of the island, looking for a bit of privacy. I can tell you without any hesitation that in 5 years, every inch of beach will be lined with resorts and bungalows. There were construction sites everywhere.

did find, after a quite fun and hazardous drive in sand, a tiny restaurant sided by pale sand and turquoise waters. The lady was very nice and made me some noodles with squid, from which I think I got the virus that would keep me in a hammock all of the following day, spitting thick flegm packing my sinuses.

I caught myself wishing that I had stayed home to play videogames instead but kicked that thought out of my life pretty quickly and as I swung in that hammock softly, my thoughts carried me to Don Det and my friend Ken, also on a quiet island, also probably resting in a hammock with his baby boy sleeping in his arms.

Those 4 days disappeared much too quickly, and after a delayed flight (starting to be the trend for me) I landed back in Ho Chi Minh city, where I found that someone had stolen my helmet, right in the airport parking lot.

All in all, Phu Quoc is amazing, the people were very friendly and the seafood delicious, if a little bit overpriced (for Vietnam). Go now, before it changes completely.

Here are pictures.

A little lady taking a break from selling fruits on the beach. She seemed about 60. I felt bad for her but she did sell about every 20 minutes.InstagramCapture_92d30897-9f69-4269-8b97-b76814a23eb2

Watching the sunset from my sunbed, where I imagined how ancient sun-worshippers would panic every time the sun would “die” and night set in.InstagramCapture_c76d31e8-fd71-4b3b-a416-7d25ba82123b

Little lonely dude on the way to the beach. I’d whistle to him and he’d listen intently but wouldn’t try to imitate me, instead trying to bite me if I got too close.WP_20151231_006

Some of the way to my secluded beachWP_20160102_001

Secluded beach in questionWP_20160102_007

The restaurantWP_20160102_008

More of the beach. In the distance was a tiny island surrounded by about 5-6 boats packed with tourists who might have been there for snorkeling between beers.WP_20160102_011

Took a selfie. My age is finally starting to catch up with me.WP_20160102_012

Some of the food available at the night market.WP_20160102_016

Sea snake anyone?WP_20160102_019

A port near the market. On the left is a rock temple, and behind me locals and tourists are jam-packed, drinking sugarcane juice, eating street food and watching kids play in the water under a slowly setting sun.WP_20160102_021

View from the pier. The rock temple is behind that balcony.WP_20160102_022

Local scene. I made friends with a little girl who would eat a mango nonchalantly and try to chat me up casually until we started making faces at each other.WP_20160102_029

Some of my evening meal. Delicious.WP_20160102_031


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