Sunday, April 30th 2017

Phu Quoc island (Vietnam) or how to spice up boring holidays

Phu Quoc is an almost unknown destination in Vietnam. Foreign tourists and Vietnamese alike just recently discovered Phu Quoc. The place It quite famous for its splendid natural beauty and untouched remote beaches of this spectacular tropical island.

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Hidden beaches of Phu Quoc

Geographically, Phu Quoc island is located in the Gulf of Thailand, covering a total area of approximately 580 km², close to the main asian cites of Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. It is closer to Cambodia than the closest mainland town of Ha Tien in Vietnam in the Kien Giang province, which is 46 km away.

The most valuable crop is black pepper, but the islanders here have traditionally earned their living from the sea. Phu Quoc is also famous in Vietnam for its production of high-quality fish sauce (nuoc mam). There

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Fishermen’s boats

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Fish nets

We flew in from Saigon early in the morning. After usual airport formalities we sought for a place to rent scooter. The place looked like a usual small resort area – shops, hotels offers, tour guides. Our strategy was to rent a scooter and leave the main touristic areas in search for accommodation. We talked to a couple of guys, negotiated the prices and we got a deal. Mounted on the scooter we set off to explore the holidays real estate market. Passed a couple of big resorts on the seaside and some big hotels. Suddenly the tarmac road ended and we became a ball of fire…actually a ball of dust. Dry mud roads produce incredible amount of dust. But i was not taken by surprise as the whole Cambodia is like this, or even worse.

We stopped here and there, checked prices and surprisingly there were not as low as we expected, even in kinda deserted place. In the end we chose a small place with nice bungalows, a shop with usual touristic stuff and a bar in the center. Vietnamese girl was very nice and smiley. Some foreigners were hanging out around the bar with drinks. So this will be our home for the next three nights.

Everyday we woke up, ate breakfast and went to ride around the island and visit some hidden beaches. Most of them are not really nice, with brownish sand.

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Many of them even the nice one are full of plastic trash which is probably thrown from boats, and eventually ends on these beaches.

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Some beaches with brown sand

The nice ones are hidden and you have to ride quite some time before you reach them. But they have nice sand and usually a small bar, where cold drinks are ready to be served. So day by day we were going to the beaches, visited the city market, and a couple of supermarkets. in the evening we had some drinks with people in the guest house, or visited bars in other guest houses. Nothing extraordinary or remarkable: same dust on the road, same beaches, same old travel stories from backpackers.

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Bar at a beach with a view

On our last night we were drinking with a French couple and some Danish guys in our bar; and talking to the Vietnamese girl who happened to be a girlfriend of a French owner of this guest hose. We got a bit tipsy, telling jokes and stories, laughing and drinking more. Later came the French guy with another couple – a French guy with a Vietnamese girl. Typical ;-) So all four of them dressed up were about to leave for some dinner. They had something to celebrate, so the French owners treated us with some drinks.

More drinks, more stories, more laughs. French couple went to sleep, Danish guys went somewhere else to continue. And we were supposed to sleep as we had to wake up at 5am, return the scooter and take our flight around 7am. I must tell i was pretty drunk. Good night…..Holidays in Phu Quoc is over….quite flat holidays i must says. Drinking with French and Danish guys was the most “exciting” of all the events.

Suddenly i woke up because i heard on the edge of my consciousness a woman screaming. First I could not understand what was happening, then I remembered where I was. I called my brother and asked what the fuck was happening. He had no clue. The woman screamed more and there other voices. We jumped out of beds and as we were in boxers barefoot ran outside.

The scene outside was difficult to see and understand as the lights were not that good. We ran to the place of commotion. And then I saw an elderly lady on the ground, the young Vietnamese girl and the French owner next to her. The French guy was shouting at both women, and it looked like he was beating them. The young girl was trying to protect her mom (as we learnt later). While my brother was checking what is happening around, who was watching, etc., i rushed to the guy in order to punch the motherfucker in the face. He was expecting that and turned to me, swing his fist towards my face. Suddenly I slipped and right a millisecond before the fist would reach my face I collapsed down under his feet.

Here where the tragedy begins ;) My brother seeing that stopped evaluating the situation and rushed into the battle. I got on my feet and we started fighting. Considering we had an advantage of being drunk, being two, and no one else joining the side of the Frenchmen, the battle was won quite fast. He continued shouting something in French mixing it with swearing in English. As he could not beat the women anymore, he switched to the shop and started crashing everything inside. By this time the whole street was full of Vietnamese people and of course, all our neighbors(French, Danish, etc) were there.

When half of the shop was destroyed I tried to talk him out of completing his mission. He was still angry, shouting but did not try to punch, and was holding his hand to the ribs on the left. He was in pain. After 5-10mins of failed attempts to have a reasonable conversation with him, he moved to the bar and continued there smashing bottles and glasses. More useless attempts to calm him down. Some time later he started shouting that we can take everything from him, we can drink beer, whiskey or whatever is in the bar. Everything was for free.

At this point arrived police. I was surprised that it took them so long, or maybe nobody called them. So they talked smth in Vietnamese. Police left in 15mins. The other French guy took the owner somewhere. All the spectators slowly were leaving to sleep.

We talked a bit more to the French couple, and they left as well. We sat at the table in front of our bungalow and discussed the situation not able to sleep. As i was still drunk and as I am a Ukrainian, i decided to accept the generous offer of the French guy we just fought with. It happens in Ukraine, you have a bit of a fight with some random people in the streets, and after you could buy other drinks. Stupid, i know, but it happens. So i went to the bar, grabbed a bottle of whiskey and some colas. By 3.30am we finished half the bottle and decided to sleep at least 1 hour before departure.

Just right after we fell asleep i heard a howl. Someone was howling in pain. I was already feeling like in a film. Jumped out of bed, rushed outside….The voices were coming from the kitchen, and there was light there. We ran there. And the usual suspects: the Vietnamese mother and the girl standing around the French man who was sitting on the ground, holding his hand right above a puddle of blood….the blood was dripping. Without much thinking we looked for a cord or thick thread to cut the blood flow. The guy was still mumbling something in French and English. Younger sister brought some white powder, which stopped the blood.#

Eventually everybody calmed down. We talked to the guy, he was explaining the situation. As a foreigner one cannot have a company in Vietnam without a Vietnamese person on board. So he registered his business on the Vietnamese girlfriend. And of course, here come problems. So she did something wrong, he lost money, besides she was flirting with other men when worked in the bar. I was not sure i was following as we were drinking again. He invited us for some peacemaking glass of white rum. He was still holding his ribs, he could not breath properly without a pain spasm on his face. I guess the ribs were cracked…..

20mins later it was time to pack and leave. We bade our goodbyes and left. On the way to the ferry i was thinking that one never knows when boring holidays may become a real film like experience. Just be always ready to jump at the opportunity when it comes.

The island seemed so peaceful and beautiful but boring. Though I will never forget it.

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Sunset in Phu Quoc

 

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2 Comments on “Phu Quoc island (Vietnam) or how to spice up boring holidays”

  1. Really nice story!

    1. It was very funny. Well, it was funny after not really during the night.

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