We arrived in Phu Quoc by plane from Ho Chi Minh City on November 18th and checked into a lovely small hotel called “Paris Beach Hotel”. It is located right on the beach and we managed to get a room for $38.00 US per night with free breakfast and wifi. After a short time here, we realized that most of the island was being torn up to build mega hotels. Unfortunately, they started building the hotels without making the roads first and as a consequence the roads leading to some of the best beaches are muddy and nearly impassable to navigate. Never-the-less, we managed to find a very sweet lady “Thi” from the “Heaven Restaurant” to lead a motorbike tour of the island.
Both of us went to the south end of the island with Thi and her husband’s friend. We visited the Pearl Farm, Coconut Prison, the fish sauce factory, famous Sau Beach, and a few fishing ports. They did a marvelous job negotiating the very muddy and rutted roads along the coast and the view of the sea was glorious as long as we didn’t look to our left where all the construction was happening. We had to dodge many giant trucks and large road construction equipment on the way. Thi explained that many very large hotels and resorts would be completed this year, some of which would house over 4000 people. It is hard to imagine this many people on a small island.
The following day, Denise went on her own with Thi to the north part of the island on roads less traveled and visited many fishing villages and beautiful beaches. We went into part of the forested area near the National Park and took a short hike through the woods. Again large stretches of road were full of large back hoes and bulldozers.
We also spent an evening on a squid fishing expedition and both of us caught a poor little squid. Pete got squirted with ink from the squid and stained his shirt. That was our excitement for the day! We also went snorkeling near “Turtle Island” and did see some impressive coral. We were told by many sources in dive shops that the fish have been severely decreased by overfishing and by poor ecological management of waste. We saw some disturbing sights in the night market as well such as sea horses for sale. Many divers and snorkelers are in awe when seeing these elusive creatures, but here in Vietnam, they are considered “good for men” (if you know what I mean).
We have decided to return to Ho Chi Minh City sooner than expected to start the visa renewal process and plan to visit the Mekong Delta. This island is more expensive that we imagined and it is difficult to get around without paying for a taxi. We did enjoy the Paris Beach Hotel a great deal due to the excellent location and the very sweet staff! Thanks to Thi at the Heaven Restaurant, we saw more of the island that we would have ever imagined!