We are now in Phu Quoc, which is an Island which belongs to Vietnam but is in-fact closer to Cambodia. It is also the island that Kate and I planned to spend our belated honeymoon so it is nice that we have actually made it here on time for out 1 year anniversary. A lot has happened since we last wrote and if I remember correctly we were on the beach in Sihanoukville. Sihanoukville was a fairly lively town with beach parties and a relaxed daytime atmosphere.
Armed with our newly acquired Vietnamese visas we decided to break our journey to the border with an overnight stay in Kampot which is a picturesque town built with a heavy French influence. The town is now crumbling which is a shame as I fear that the Cambodians do not do a lot to preserve their built heritage and when a building starts to deteriorate they either tear it down or leave it to totally disintegrate and build a new one somewhere else. Whilst in Kampot we got a tuc-tuc to a town called Kep, which was a apparently THE place to be in 1950’s Cambodia. We couldn’t see why though as there was nothing there and the beach was horrid!
Whilst in Kampot we also arranged our trip to the border. We decided to cross at the newly opened border At Ha Tien which had the advantage of being able to catch a ferry direct from the town to Phu Quoc. Its disadvantage was that it was tricky to get to and on the Cambodian side was un made roads which cars and buses couldn’t pass, we therefore had 2 options, tuc-tuc or motorbike taxi. Given that the ferry left at 8 am and a tuc-tuuc would take 2.5 hours plus the time to cross the border we would have had to left at 4 am to be sure of getting there on time. We therefore decided to catch a motorbike taxi which would allow us a comparative lie in until 5 am. The motorbike also had the advantage of being able to pass through the border and take us right to the port Ha Tien rather than being dropped off at the Cambodian side and trying to find transport after passing through. We were both nervous about this having never been on a motorbike before but we decided that these guys ride them every day, sometimes with their wives and as many as 3 kids on board. With our tickets booked we had a meal by the river before turning in for an early night.
At 1 am we were woken by the most incredible noise. It sounded like what you would imagine standing next to a jet-plane as it took off. I opened the front door and realised that the noise was being made by the heaviest rainfall I have ever seen. We saw heavy rainfall in Siam Reap as the soon to be uploaded photos will prove, but this was in a totally different league with the drops as large a marbles. After about 40mins the rain passed and we both drifted back off . In the morning we woke and set off on the waiting motorbikes to the border. I was glad that we went for the motorbikes as the dirt road was easily passable on a motorbike which would weave around the puddles. Whilst I think a tuc-tuc would have made it I think it would have taken for ever as it would have had to slowly wade through the puddles. As it happened we reached the border and passed through it with ease only having to pay a small 2$ bribe to the man who gave us our health questionnaires. We reached Ha Tien with time enough for a cup of coffee (which in Vietnam is very good) and to change some Dollars to Dong. The ferry was thankfully smooth which was a relief as according to the guidebook it can be very rough. Whilst in Ha Tien we had been given a hotel recommendation by a travel agent so we got a taxi to take us there to check it out. Upon inspection it was not really up to scratch so we decided to take a look at the place Kate’s Uncle Matt had stayed at which was perfect and at only $5 more than the hovel we just looked at we decided to stay. It is a resort set amongst palm trees directly on a very quiet beach and is perfect. We spent the rest of the day on the beach.
The next day we wanted to go off exploring , and decided to take the guidebooks advice of hiring a moped and tour round the islands quiet lanes. We visited an inland waterfall for a quick swim and then went to find Bai Sao beach which was gorgeous. Just as we left the beach we realised that we had a flat rear tyre and we panicked as we only had the equivalent of 1$. w***! We limped to a roadside shack which are the formula 1 auto-centres of Phu Quoc. I imagined that a motorbike tyre was like a care tyre and once something has pierced the tyre it has to be replaced. Fortunately a motorbike tyre is more akin to a bicycle tyre with an inner tube and the 15,000D we had on us was sufficient to repair the puncture. Unfortunately once the inner tube was removed it was apparent that a patch would not fix the problem as the valve had completely torn away from the rest of the tube. w***! After some sign language negotiation as their English was about as good as my Vietnamese we agreed to leave our camera as collateral whilst we would ride our fixed bike back to our hotel to collect more money. I should point out that our hotel was 45 mins away so paying the man would involve a 1.5 hour round trip. On the plus side the hotel offered to pay for the new tube. Just as we were nearing the garage I noticed that the front the front tyre was flat. w***. We arrived at the garage and the mechanics all fell around laughing (Kate and I were not quite as amused). Fortunately this time it was only a puncture which was patched up and we now faced a race against time to get back to the hotel before it got dark as I didn’t fancy riding in the darkness and I couldn’t work out how to turn the lights on..