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March 16, 2010: Siem Reap to Phu Quoc

Thus begins the lazy beach portion of our trip

View Vietnam and Cambodia 2010 on redtogo's travel map.

Nat rallied for our trip back to Vietnam, possibly because he had expelled all traces of food and paramecium from his system in the last 24 hours, or possibly because he feared that he would not be allowed on the plane if he appeared ill. I was sad to leave Cambodia and hope to make it back there some day and explore the country more outside what I suspect may be the archaeological equivalent of Las Vegas.

After Chop and Nat dealt with some visa hijinks and made a "charitable donation" to the Vietnamese government in Ho Chi Minh City, we were on our way to Phu Quoc island. We were not immediately impressed by our hotel, Hiep Thanh. And we were not any further impressed in subsequent days. But the rooms did have air conditioning, even if I did have to keep flicking the fluorescent lightbulb in the bathroom in order to keep it running long enough to put on sunscreen. The staff was abysmal, and could not even tell us if they had our reservation or how much our rooms would cost.

But the beach, ah the beach! It was fabulously uncrowded and about 100 feet from our bungalow door, with shaded cabana type things and lots of beach chairs, a snack bar serving Tiger beers for less than $1, and women giving beach massages for 50,000 to 60,000 dong (that's about $3). Even when the bar wasn't open, we were never more than a few searing steps away from a woman selling bananas, mangoes, and pineapple. And the water was deliciously warm and calm, although Dan found it prohibitively "bitey." There was some kind of stinging insect in the water. I didn't find this all that bothersome (they didn't leave marks or anything, just felt like occasional mosquito bites minus the itching), but it is my experience that Dan has been (in my humble opinion) utterly and irreparably spoiled for beaches by having grown up in Miami. And although our beach hotel didn't have a restaurant that was open at night (and indeed served a very spare breakfast begrudgingly handed out by a staff who acted like every baguette that we ate came out of their paycheck), there were plenty of good restaurants further up the beach.
Now being a redhead I have never been a beach person and I don't even really like the ocean, but after running from destination to destination and dodging motorbike traffic for almost two weeks, I was very happy to throw myself into a peaceful beach routine that involved various arrangements of the following activities: go to beach, read in the shade, swim in ocean, get squid/shrimp/fish meal, swim in ocean, drink mango smoothie or beer, play dominoes, get massage, swim in ocean, knit in shade, eat banana. Repeat as desired. Paradise!

Posted by redtogo 16:43 Archived in Vietnam

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