And on it was to Phu Quoc, which is an island off the south coast of Vietnam. My arrival coincided with the start of an 11 day techno festival - Epizode. I didn't come to Phu Quoc specifically for the festival - I came because it became the best option after Pai and a friend I met in Pai is also here, so it made perfect sense! That said - I managed to find a discounted ticket for the festival, so why not? And here I am now, writing this blog 10/11 days later, feeling thoroughly shattered!
Phu Quoc itself is an interesting island - the main town where I'm staying is very much a resort town. There's a very heavy Russian presence here - most likely down to the visa arrangements with Vietnam, the flights and the fact that it's a lot closer than the UK. I am however told that there are way more Brits here than a year ago, so presumably this will become another holiday island that we'll occupy and convert in the years to come!
As things stand though, the real beauty in Phu Quoc is getting off the beaten track and finding the beaches which are as yet secluded and untampered with by property developers. Admittedly (mainly due to the festival and a tropical storm) I didn't get to the beaches that much. Still managed to find some beach time though! The beach I ended up going to more than once is Vung Bau - it's a long coastline with just one very expensive and very secluded resort at the far end. As things stand, the main selling point of the beach is how quiet the place is! That is inevitable to change though, because the land behind the beach is flat and perfect for development.
So onto the festival! It was thoroughly enjoyable - music playing literally 24/7, although I only went during the night. It's not my kind of music, but I managed to turn up 7 out of 11 nights, which I'm pretty happy with and definitely got my money's worth out of it! I didn't go for the first two nights because I was too tired and lazy after spending 24 hours travelling from Pai. On most nights I went, I stayed until daylight appeared, which was pretty cool! Also as a non-drug user and relatively light drinker, it was amusing to witness the very numerous ****ed up people at the end of the night, who were at least mentally in another solar system somewhere! That actually extended into a bit of a hobby in the last couple of times I stayed up all night - I got back to the hostel just before or in time for free breakfast, and I just sat up observing the stragglers rolling home - highly amusing! At the last night of the festival, I hit a bit of an energy wall and the music was particularly unimpressive to my ears, so I ended up sacking it off reasonably early.
There isn't much else to add at this point - with it being "resorty", the food is overpriced and there are far too many western options. Although saying that, I've lost count of the amount of bank breaking curries I've eaten!
I feel like even as close as 5 years ago, Phu Quoc would have been a special island with minimal development. Unfortunately though, it's well on the road to becoming the next holiday destination - there's even direct return flights from the UK now, for as little as £300. I'm glad I saw part of the island which is still unspoiled because it won't stay like that indefinitely - money talks & all that!
I'm leaving early tomorrow, to go to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for a few days...looking forward to getting a real snapshot of the actual Vietnam! Although the main Vietnam will have to wait a while, because I'm heading out to Malaysia and then Indonesia after Saigon.
Peace out for now!