Sunday, February 21, 2010
Phu Quoc - Paradise......
Sun, Sea, Waterfalls,, Sunsets and Dense Forest and all the seafood you can eat....welcome to Phu Quoc.
For those of you not in the know, PQ is a small island off the south of Vietnam. It's bang in the middle between Cambodia and Vietnam so I'm not sure why it's a territory of Nam but I'm sure Wikipedia will tell you if you're interested. Anyways, you can get there by boat or plane. The plane took about an hour from Saigon. As far as I know, there are very few routes into the Island (it may only be from SGN) but there are rumours they might open an international airport there which I sincerely hope they don't do as it'll destroy the island as the investors line up to destroy the landscape with crappy hotels.
So here's the east coast. Look good? Well it's great! Not a stone in sight (unlike the marvellous beaches in the south of England), clear blue sky and palm trees in the back ground. Please correct me if I've got the tree wrong, I don't pretend to have an interest in tree types, only that they look pretty. I hate sunbathing, and spend any length of time under the sun and you'll be red as a tomato within minutes, but walking along the beach after breakfast and dinner was extraordinarily pleasant, especially with the soft sea breeze.
As I don't really enjoy cooking myself on the beach, I went exploring. Phu Quoc has two or 3 waterfalls and whilst they're not the biggest you'll ever see, they're still beautiful. They're also situated in some of the less chartered parts of the island. This waterfall was off the only tarmacked road on the island, but the 2nd waterfall required us to drive down bumpy, dusty, red dirt roads. I thoroughly enjoyed it but can understand if not everyone shares my enthusiasm for it! More importantly, the location of the falls are sheltered from the sun (yay shade) and offers a small workout to get to as a wee walk is required to get there!
This bridge needs to be crossed get to one of the waterfalls. It's not very dangerous but the child in me did make me feel like Indiana Jones.
There are also several islands off Phu Quoc. 'Why leave the island that you've visited?' I hear you ask. Well let me tell you. I went on a snorkeling boat trip just off the Island. It cost $15 for 7 hours on the boat. A fantastic lunch was provided (various seafoods) and the views were just stunning. Take the picture below for example.
This is a secluded beach. It's a tiny beach (I swam across from the boat) but it's been untouched by us and for a tiny while, you could imagine being cut off from everything. It was a strange feeling but made me think about how we should make the most of these areas which become more scarce day by day. There was a variety of boat tours and diving tours available. I've heard the diving is quite good but I don't like going underwater so it doesn't interest me. I also struggle with snorkeling (head underwater again) but again I heard that there was a good variety of fish to see.
Traveling around Phu Quoc was also an adventure. There is only one tarmac road and that's from the airport to the main tourist area. The rest of the island is catered for by dirt roads.
And they're not too bad when it's dry. When it's wet it's a different story but we were lucky with the weather. Here you can also see the forest and the bizarre experience of driving through herds of cattle grazing. It was surreal at times but you really did feel in touch with nature. During the day we often drove around the island under the protection of the forest. Phu Quoc is also small enough to comfortably drive round in a day but you wouldn't want to be on a bike in the dark.
Well Phu Quoc is a fantastic getaway. If you wanted to unwind and recharge it's a place for you. If you're a beach person you'll love it. I'd highly recommend dragging yourself for a few hours everyday to see the roads, forest and waterfalls. At night take a walk along the beach and eat seafood at a place pictured above. It's ideal for couples but I'd happily go alone. There are plenty of bars (no real clubs) but it's not a yobby place. If you're short of ideas for a holiday then Phu Quoc is your answer. If they do go ahead and build the international airport PQ will lose it's identity so get there before!
Hanh and I went just before high season and it was neither too expensive nor were there too many people, but I hear that the prices do go much higher at peak times. However, I'll certainly be back....