Thursday, September 20, 2012

09 August: Phu Quoc

We actually set an alarm this morning. We wanted to be up and off exploring on the scooter early and then back by midday to avoid the worst of the heat. Unfortunately we hit snooze for an hour and got a bit of a late start (well, we are on holiday! Haha).

Breakfast was good and then we set off to explore the South of the island. Unfortunately we were working off an awful map which didn't actually have the real roads marked. More like just hints and suggestions ?! The signage here is also pretty poor.

Travel Tip: We did discover a far better map halfway thru our last day when we were pretty much done exploring. I highly recommend you get your hands on one of these maps when visiting Phu Quoc and save yourself any hassle.

Regardless, we had great fun today and managed to find some great spots! We headed South down the road hugging the West Coast (which our hotel is on) and we stopped off at a Pearl Farm. There are about 3 along the road, but I'm guessing everyone, including us, only bothers stopping at the first one.

They cracked open a 2-3yr old oyster and showed us the pearl inside. I'll admit I did feel a little sorry for the poor thing, they are alive, after all. They showed us how the colour on the edge of the shell's Mother of Pearl will match the colour of the actual pearl inside. I still have no idea how baby oysters are made tho?!?

Anyway. The super big pearls are apparently from 5-7yr old oysters. This is a long term business plan, clearly. We went into the shop and saw so many pearls! I really had no idea how many colour varieties there were (Aside from white and black)! And the quality of a pearl is rated on it's shine and it's roundness.

I almost bought a necklace. But, I'm not a big jewelery person, really, and I can't even imagine when I'd wear pearls! So, we moved on.

We took a wrong turn which took us past Phu Quoc Prison, which was actually the highlight of our day's stops for me. It is quite surreal. They're rebuilding the whole thing with half the barbed wire in the world (that may be an only marginal exaggeration :P). There are mannequins and descriptive signs. The signs are glaringly anti-American (as you'd expect since they took over the Prison and used it to hold Vietnamese). Again, it was all pretty horrific and shocking.

We ended up going all the way down to An Thoi in the hunt for the road to Sao Beach. Then we headed back the way we'd come, past the prison and further North (we did stop to ask a few people but the English here was non-existant).

We did find the turn-off eventually and went to Sao Beach. But, we were completely disappointed in what we'd read was supposed to be Phu Quoc's best beach. It was crowded with people (quite a few tourist buses in the parking lot) and expensive restaurants that didn't interest us. Also, the water was filled with boats. Nope, we didn't stay long at all.

Travel Tip: Speaking of which, the wikitravel article on Phu Quoc seems terribly out-of-date (that's we'd read that Sao Beach was the place to go). We went looking for one of the restaurants mentioned on it (The Dog Bar), in the evening for dinner, only to be told it closed down 2 years ago!

After the disappointment of Sao Beach, we headed home. I was getting grumpy and hungry. We had lunch on the loungers at our hotel beach and swam and read the afternoon away. Simply blissful.

We headed back out in search of dinner at about 18h30 and ended up at a place called Pepper's. Superb watermelon shakes (just the way I remember them from Thailand).

 We came home straight after that and I finished reading The Hunger Games. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Which surprised me a little since a) I really had no idea what it was about and b) it has all sorts of similar hype as Twilight and 50 Shades. Looking forward to the next one! Wish I'd brought it with me. Haha.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...

We've been tempted to buy another book while here, but apparently there are all photocopied pages inside the covers. It's cheaper (and no doubt total piracy). I'm sorta tempted to get one just for a memorabilia item - haha. (I didn't)

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