After almost 4 weeks of travelling through Vietnam and moving from one place to another almost every two days we needed some rest. Phu Quoc seemed to be just the perfect place to get just that.
We only had one more place to see in Vietnam and we would have seen all of the 1000 Places To See Before You Die that are in Vietnam. The last place we haven’t been to is the Mekong Delta. And there is a good reason why we didn’t go and see the Mekong Delta even though we fully intended to.
Back to Saigon
Since the train from Hanoi to Saigon cost as much as a plane ticket and takes 2 days we opted for a cheap flight with Jet Star to get to Saigon. We planned to stay in a hotel near the airport for 1 day and book a Mekong Delta tour from there.
At the airport we were asked if we would have any money in our checked luggage. We didn’t remember that we had our fake wallet with a expired credit cards and a few dollars in them, which taught us a huge security lesson. But more on that later.
We also forgot to put our Swiss pocket knife in the checked luggage and had to throw it out at the security check. So, sadly, no more peanut butter sandwiches for now.
Once we arrived at the hotel we realized that our hotel wasn’t able to book us our tour to the Mekong Delta. The staff’s English was so bad, they didn’t even understand the words “tour”, “wake up call” or some complicated words like “monday”. Well, we can’t expect an airport hotel’s staff to know English or can we?
After a phone call with the manager she tried to tell us that there wouldn’t be any tours until 3 days later. I knew that it was a lie and she just wanted us to stay in her hotel a few more nights. We were so tired of the Vietnamese people trying to squeeze a little bit more money out of us and decided we had enough of Vietnam. So, no Mekong Delta tour.
Instead we booked a flight to Phu Quoc to end our Vietnam trip with a few days at the beach on Vietnam’s most beautiful island.
Phu Quoc: Like Koh Samui in the 80’s
Everybody told us that Phu Quoc is on the verge of becoming the next Koh Samui. It is as big as Samui, but the touristic infrastructure and number of tourists are comparable to Thailand’s most popular island 30 years ago.
The airport is so tiny that only turboprop airplanes can land there. Really cute. It felt a bit like being in a private jet, because we just went out of the plane and walked to the small terminal.
We stayed at a very lovely small hotel about 5 minutes away from the beach. When we got there we immediately realized that something was “wrong”. The rooms were immaculately clean, all information was written in Vietnamese and proper English. The staff was nice, understood most of what we asked and in most cases were even able to give us an answer. We haven’t seen this kind of service in all of Vietnam.
We soon found out that the hotel is run by an Australian and a Vietnamese guys who spent some time abroad. Well, that explains why this hotel was a pleasent surprise.
Our quiet Vietnamese paradise
After all the stress we’ve had in Vietnam Phu Quoc was like paradise to us. It is nothing like the Maldives, but compared to the other Vietnamese cities this was a real treat. We enjoyed the sunset dinner at the beach and spent many,many hours at the roof top “bar” where we had a wonderful view of the beach and amazing sunsets.
Since we wanted to see a bit more of the island and are not yet willing to rent a scooter we rented 2 bikes from the hotel to start our afternoon exploration tour. The hotel owner gave us a map and told us where we could find a nice beach only 12 km away. It turns out that 12 km (and back) on a bike partly driving on improvised dirt roads can be a real pain in the ass. Literally.
All the pain was worth it though. We didn’t really get to see the beautiful beach because we got a bit lost in the jungle and just as we were heading back because we wanted to be back before nightfall (no lights on the roads or bikes) we at least found our way to a tiny, rocky beach.
Even without the beautiful beach we got to see what Koh Samui probably was like a few decades ago. Limited infrastructure, lots of nature and very little traffic. I hope the Vietnamese won’t turn Phu Quoc into another Koh Samui but instead try to learn from the Thai’s mistakes.
What happened to the fake wallet?
I almost forgot to write about what we have learned from our fake wallet incident. We put the fake wallet in our backpacks because on many buses in South East Asia people hide in the baggage compartement to look through the bags of tourists while the bus is driving.
We included the wallet so they would find the wallet easily and think they already got what they wanted and would stop to look through all our stuff. Well, after our flights to Saigon and Phu Quoc, the fake wallet was missing. We don’t know where it was taken or who took it, but we do know now that we should be very careful with our stuff and you can’t even trust the staff at the airports.
Sad, but true.