Red dirt and sea food: Phu Quoc Island

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Phu Quoc beach
Phu Quoc beach

We returned to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), this time with the visiting family in tow. I’m not sure there is a gentle way that you can introduce folks who’ve not back packed before to Vietnam, so we decided we’d just go all in. First stop after their evening arrival. Bui Vien Street. No better way to get to know backpacking Vietnam.

Then there was our second trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels – we took the public bus again, changing from the number 13 to the number 79 at the Cu Chi Bus Station – and spending a superb few hours once again in a small group.

The group on the bus on the way back however was significantly larger. Diane (my sister in law) got the only available seat – right at the front, and there were even 10 people in front of her. Her Vietnamese improved enough to make friends with a local family and even sample some of their food.

“I ate it, ” she said “but I don’t know what it was. A sample got passed back to us three standers further back. We ate it too, and don’t know what it was either.

Get Phu Quoc by boat
Get Phu Quoc by boat

>> Sundown in Dong Duong Town

Then a quick trip to the Reunification Palace

We decided to take a flight to Phu Quoc Island – a bargain at US$30 each, and a much shorter transfer rather than take the long bus and ferry ride. Named in virtually all of the “up and coming places to go” articles I’ve read recently, this was to be the island get away part of the rellies vacation.

After a short, but possibly the noisiest flight I’ve even taken (I don’t believe the entire plane stopped talking even for one minute during the time we were on board) we landed at what the guide books will have you believe is the next step to paradise.

Ham Ninh fishing village
Ham Ninh fishing village

It’s the Vietnamese version. Quiet by Vietnamese standards. Mostly half built by any standards and the usual dirty and not quite clean that we’ve come to expect from Vietnam. (Swimming in the ocean for instance, meant paddling around the plastic bags masquerading as jelly fish).

Phu Quoc is pretty quiet. We’d chosen to stay in Duong Dong, as we wanted to be sure that we visited the night food market and while some of the places in the north looked wonderfully isolated and empty, they also looked wonderfully isolated and empty.