Kerry – We decided we needed 5 days of pure indulgence and chill out time, and rather than heading to a touristy Thai island, we thought we would try out the less developed South Vietnamese island called Phu Quoc. We got flights to the island from Ho Chih Minh city (about $120 return each) and had booked our accommodation (after lots of searching on line!) in advance. The flight was on time and we were welcomed at the airport by our transfer to our hotel – Cassia Cottage. On arrival at Cassia we were met by the manager – Jim, a really friendly and professional guy from New Zealand who had moved onto the island about a year ago to take over the running of the resort with his family. The resort was lovely and our room was just great – big bathroom and it was so clean and had a really comfy bed!! We spent the next 5 days either relaxing by the pool or swimming in the sea and eating the excellent food at the hotels restaurant! the beach by our hotel was nice, although there were a few pieces of rubbish in certain parts a few meters up from us. The Vietnamese have not learned the effects of throwing rubbish into the sea which is a real shame as it did taint the island slightly.
We did 2 day trips while on the island. On the first we hired a motorbike and explored the southern part of the island. I was pretty nervous about this, as i am not a huge fan of motobikes, and Andrei has never driven one before, but on the island you are limited to cheap ways of getting around – cars are really expensive to hire and a bicycle would not really get you that far! Jim was great though at giving Andrei a thorough lesson on the bike before we left. We were out all day and hired the bike mainly to visit the nicest beach on the island – Bai Sao and the waterfall in the centre of the island. As we drove around, my nerves left me, the roads were actually pretty deserted and we just took it slowly. The road started off as a red dirt track, but then the further south we got it changed to a tarmac road.
The island really is not very developed and as we drove along we saw lots of shacks and houses of the locals along the coast road. We stopped off on the way at the pearl factory for about 10 mins and reached Bai Sao at around lunch time. When we got there a huge black cloud was threatening to pour down on us…. but it did move away thank god and the sun came out! The beach was gorgeous – a little bay of white sand and light turquoise water that was so shallow for miles! when the sun came out it was so beautiful! However, the beach is not completley clear of debris, most of it is natural – twigs and plants etc, but there was even a little bit of litter here as well. The beach was very quiet though and only has a couple of restuarnts on the beach that you can eat at. We had some scallops and had a hige portion! They were slightly tough though, so we were a little dissapointed. we relaxed here for a good 3 hrs, eating and swimming in the sea. You could see little starfish in the sea (which I think may have been what prickled my toe!).
We left the beach to head off to the waterfall and all was going well until we hit a very bumpy part of a dirt track and fell off! Andrei trapped his leg under the bike, but was ok. I was just really shaken up, and my confidence on the bike left once this had happened. But we had no choice but to get back on and keep going! We drive for about 45 mins when we finally reached the waterfall. The entreance to the falls looked like the entrance to Jurrasic park! We parked up our bike and paid 1000 VD to enter. The walk up to the fall took about 15 mins. We arrived at the top and were the only ones there! so we had a swim in the pool – the water was colder than the sea but still wamer than the falls we had visited in Chiang Mai! It reminded us off the falls that we used to see on the Timotei advert many years ago!
After that it was back to our hotel, with a detour in the town centre where we got lost for a bit and had to ask a local for directions.
Our second day trip was a day out to the Northern part of the island to do snorkelling. This was a nice day out but quite expensive at $17 each. Our group were about 15 people, and we were travelling on a small boat. The sea was calm, but the boat was rocking an awful lot and i have to admit to feeling pretty sea sick for the majority of the day – i was not the only one though! The weather also decided to take a turn for the worst and we ended up in a rain storm for about 30 mins! It was the first time we felt cold in SE Asia! But we did manage to see some great things when we snorkelled and the sea was really warm. It was a shame that the visability was not a bit better and also that the crew from the boat wanted to walk all over the coral on their quest for sea snails! We saw lots of nice coral though as well as loads of sea urchins and a few tropical fish. We snorkelled 3 times. We also met some nice people on the trip – Dan (USA) and Megan (Canadian) Tom and Emily (UK) and Matt (Hong Kong) who ended up coming to eat at our resort that night and the following day as we had recommended it!
Overall we had a really great time on the island and are glad that we chose to chill out there, rahter than a Thai island. The weather was mainly ok, apart from the last day when it rained a lot, but we did get quite a lot of sun, considering it was the rainy season!
Cassia Cottage was also fantastic and made the trip!