Exploring Vietnam. Part 5: Phu Quoc

One big final wow effect, we wanted to include in our stay was a beach holiday. Even if it was just for a few days, I for once, just wanted to lie on the beach, read my book and have absolutely no worries.

Everyone, who knows me also knows, how challenging this is for me, but this was part of the purpose of my holiday so it had to be done.

We took another domestic flight from Da Lat to Ho Chi Minh and further to Phu Quoc. Flights are dirt cheap in this country, especially if you only travel with hand luggage (which we unfortunately didn’t though…). Our check-in bags were actually more expensive than the actual flight ticket. I wish, South Africa would be as price conscious as these Asian airlines…

Back to my story. We took a taxi to our hostel, which was located quite closely to the main city. After our extremely pleasant day in Da Lat, arriving in Phu Quoc felt like arriving in resort downtown. Our hostel was just one road away from the beach but we very quickly realized that we actually couldn’t walk to the beach at all, as the beachside was completely plastered with resorts and no one of these securities allowed us to go to the beach.

We hired bicycles and wanted to cycle to the one recommended beach bar in the area but when we arrived, we stood in front of closed doors and an information leaflet mentioned, the bar moved and had its last operating day the evening prior our arrival. In addition, it also rained cats and dogs again. We were frustrated. Our beach holiday was at risk to be an absolute Desaster.

So…. We did what had to be done: we found an Irish pub and played cards and formulated a plan of action for our mission to lie on the beach, for the rest of the day.

There was only one solution to our problem. We HAD to rent out a scooter. I was terrified. The roads here are absolute chaos. By that I honestly mean that. People drive, however they like to and on whatever side of the road. I can’t even describe it. It feels like no one actually ever had driving lessons in this country and just drove to where ever they needed to be without any rules or regulations. To avoid cars driving towards you although you are on the correct lane is the most normal thing on earth and turning left on a bigger road is basically everyone’s biggest nightmare (well not a Vietnamese nightmare apparently). Somehow though, they all manage to stay alive and I honestly do not understand how.

So, in order for us to lie on the beach we had to dive in to the chaos and forget about everything we ever learned about driving. I. Was. Terrified.

We hired the scooters in the morning and since I have never driven a scooter before I practiced on the empty and quiet road in front of our hostel. I drove back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Soon I was able to turn back to the other side without breaking a sweat or screaming and I was even able to put my feet onto my scooter too.

My friend decided I was ready to hit the roads. Her scooter got already peed at by the local street dog because she had to wait for me for too long.

Unfortunately, we had to turn left straight away, coming out of our quiet road. I cried a little on the inside. My friend saw the gap in the traffic and drove first, I was too scared and waited. And waited. And waited. After some time I decided THIS IS IT and I jumped with my scooter forward, screaming and with big wide eyes I managed to cross the road and turn left onto the road I had to take. I couldn’t believe I was still alive. Ecstatic as I was, I drove to my friend who waited for me a little further up the road with a groundbreaking 20kmH. It must have looked, as if I was driving in slow motion. This was the fastest I was able to go and that’s that. By the time, I arrived at my friend, she was lying under her scooter, crying of laughter.

Anyway, the biggest problem was solved, now we had to just continue straight out of town into the island roads which were pretty much empty. That was the start of a beautiful relationship to my scooter. Why did I never try this before?! The following to days, we drove around the whole island, we went to as many beaches as we could, we had little scooter races on extremely empty roads (40kmH max) and I even drove up to 60kmH at one point, laughing hysterically with tears in my eyes, because the wind blew me off. What a great feeling. We got so confident, we even drove through the busy town center after work with about 1 million other scooters and we didn’t die!! We didn’t even have a tiny chance of an accident. I was never prouder.

Summarizing Phu Quoc is really an island for scooter beginners, who like to go explore. Generally I was quite underwhelmed by the island, I somehow imagined more empty white beaches and less tourists and DEFINETLY less resorts. So sad to see that nothing on this island is actually real and doesn’t have a tourist purpose. We only found one spot in the far north which looked relatively unexplored and empty (which might have been due to the 1 million ants eating you alive if you didn’t stand in the water), but we managed to snap a few tourist pictures.

I definetly managed to intensify my Tan and read half of my book so I certainly managed to achieve my personal goals.

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