Exploring Phu Quoc – Part 3

Long Beach Sunset, Phu Quoc

Long Beach Sunset, Phu Quoc

I came to Phu Quoc for two or three days.  Oh….I’ve been here for a week (and would happily stay longer).

I love this place, but know, this rock in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand has a fuse on it.  In two years, this place will be overrun with tourists (largely from Russia), criminals, and drug peddlers, and a whole lot of people acting badly; it will be nothing like the island I’ve fallen in love with on this journey.

Believe, me, I’d stay longer if I could.  I do love Phu Quoc. Continue reading

Exploring Phu Quoc – Part 2

Suoi Tranh, Phu Quoc

Suoi Tranh, Phu Quoc

TodayI am out exploring the island some more.  There’s a tentative list of things I’d like to see and do on the island while I am here.  So I set off to see if I could find any of them.  First stop was Suoi Tranh Waterfall in the middle of the island.

This was a lovely waterfall and pool of cool mountain water in which to swim.  I sat under the falls and let nature massage my shoulders for 30 minutes.  It was nice, but the much better waterfall experience was just around the corner.

Continue reading

Exploring Phu Quoc

Beachfront, Phu Quoc

Beachfront, Phu Quoc

I’ve arrived on Phu Quoc, the largest and southernmost island of Vietnam.  I’d been looking at this island every time I’ve been in Kampot or Kep as Phu Quoc is closer to Cambodia (12km) than to Vietnam (40km).  I’ve heard positive reviews of the island from fellow travelers, so I was excited to go.  I hopped on a 8am ferry from Ha Tien and arrived at this tropical paradise for 10:30.

Phu Quoc is an important island in the recent history of Vietnam.  It served as a prison camp for captured North Vietnamese soldiers during the American War.  It was historically part of Cambodia, but French Colonists put it under control of the Vietnam Governor, creating what today remains a dispute over whether or not the island belongs to Vietnam or Cambodia.  And the Khmer Rouge attacked the island killing thousands, an event that directly lead to Vietnam going to war against Pol Pot’s regime.  Continue reading

Rach Gia and Ha Tien

Flames on the Bike

Flames on the Bike

Subtitled:  How to Make Your Motorbike Faster

I left Tra Vinh feeling very positive about the town.  Situated right in the heart of the Mekong Delta, this town has a nice vibe.  And strangely enough, it’s almost completely ignored by the major travel guides.  There’s quite a bit to do and see; it’s very relaxing as well.  I suppose it’s too far away from the Saigon day-trippers and other places closer to “experience Delta life”.

I’m headed for the southern coast.  There’s not a lot written about this area either.  But my goal of going edge-to-edge in Vietnam mandates that I take the bike to the sea.  And I really liked the town I first stopped in when I crossed into Vietnam, so I’m headed to the fishing town of Rach Gia and Ha Tien on the Cambodian border. Continue reading

Time to Hit the Road

Shrimp and Mekong Grass Salad

Shrimp and Mekong Grass Salad

I am ready, my bike is mostly kitted out, and I need to put some miles on her.  My plan is to head back south as the first part of this journey was done by bus.  I want to dip the rear wheel in the Bay of Thailand before I set out to touch the front tire to Chinese soil.

Through a friend, I was put in touch with an Australian woman who lives in Ho Chi Minh who operates a Street Food Tour business and is a food blogger and writer.  Perfect.  I need to learn more about Vietnamese food and have a truckload of questions.  When I touch bases with her, it seems she is leaving the next day to head into the Mekong Delta south of the city to do some research for part of a Fodor’s travel guide she is writing.  Even more perfect.  I’ll get to accompany her while she researches, a learning opportunity with a broad professional view, I presume.  And I’m headed south too.

She invites me over to have dinner with her Vietnamese husband and meet her two children.  We’ll meet and eat this night, then head out of town the following morning.   Continue reading

Buying a Motorbike In Vietnam

Buddha and My Motorbike

Buddha and My Motorbike

There is a growing number of people independently “Motorbiking Vietnam”.  And if you are in either Hanoi or Saigon, the typical start or end points for these trips, finding a foreigner to buy a bike from is no big deal.

Well, to be clear:

  • It’s illegal for a foreigner to own a motorbike in Vietnam
  • It’s illegal to drive in Vietnam without a Vietnamese DL (which can only be obtained with residence)

So, how is it possible?

There’s a tacit understanding between police and the foreigners who undertake such a journey.  We all look the other way! Continue reading