4,000 photos in my travel blog page were taken by me using Ricoh roll film and digital cameras. I still like the Ricoh very much, but couldn’t find out a professional camera of this brand name in Hanoi. From now on, I will use a new camera of the Canon which is worth US$850. I am still learning how to use it and here are some first shots on my trip last week.
Phú Quốc island – From 4th to 7th December 2010
Phú Quốc island is located in the southernmost region of Vietnam, and also in the Gulf of Thailand. From one of the northern capes of this island to Cambodia, the seaway distance is only 5km and it takes 30-60 minutes to travel by boats. The distance from northernmost point to southernmost point of Phú Quốc island is only 75km. As some people told me, it’s as large as Singapore. The island is famous for beautiful beaches (good for diving), 99 hills, streams, fishing villages and the best fish sauce in Vietnam. One more feature is that the dogs have special hair shapes on their backs. Some types of seafood are only available here.
From Hanoi, I flew to Phú Quốc on Air Mekong with short transit in Sài Gòn (HCM city). My round trip tickets cost VND 4.8 million (US$ 240). Only small planes can land in the current airport of the island. There are some flights every day between Sài Gòn and Phú Quốc on Vietnam Airlines and Air Mekong. An international airport is under construction and in future a casino will be open that will attract more visitors.
During my 4-day trip, I visited most of the sites on the island. I traveled alone on this trip, so I decided to hire a motorbike driver to show me around. On the 2nd day of my trip, I experienced a motorbike accident. It was caused by the local driver whom I hired for a day. He drove very fast through small gate into Phú Quốc prison and my left knee hit a wall. I sat behind him, so I couldn’t avoid it. Since then my knee was very painful and it made my trip less enjoyable. However, I still tried to see all the sites that I wanted thanks to the help of many people. I even climbed over boats and rocks, walked through jungle and along streams with my injured knee. This is my first ever accident after I have traveled by all means of transport for many years. Next day I decided to hire another motorbike driver.
The sites I’ve seen are Dinh Cậu temple, Tranh stream, Phú Quốc prison (40,000 communists were jailed here during 1967 – 1973 and 4,000 prisoners died), martyr memorial monument near the prison, Hàm Ninh fishing village, Sao beach, An Thới port (the southernmost point of the island), Đá Bàn stream, Cội Nguồn museum (a private museum, also the biggest museum in the Mekong Delta), Dương Đông lake, pearl jewelery shop and oyster raising area, fish sauce and “Rượu sim” wine making workshops. I also booked an evening tour for catching squid. The tour lasts from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. It costs VND 200,000 (or US$10). The lamps were turned on to attract squid attentions. Bait is made from lead and painted with color, so that squids think they are shrimps. There were about 10 tourists on the boat and we were provided rods and then enjoyed rice porridge with squids (not squids that we caught because they were of octopus type, small and not delicious). Even though it was raining, there was still a lot of fun as everyone tried to catch something.
I have some more information if you plan a trip to this island:
1. The best time to visit the island is from November to April. Dương Đông town is located in the center of the island (on western side). You can find hotels and travel agents on Trần Hưng Đạo street and walk to Dinh Cậu night market. From this town, you can go by motorbike/taxi to the southernmost point of the island on asphalt road, then back to the town on soil road along the beach.
2. Superdong and Savanna are the two hydrofoils that run between Phú Quốc island and Hà Tiên/Rạch Giá towns on Vietnam’s mainland. One way ticket costs VND 270,000 at present.
3. Blackouts happen sometimes. Some villages in northern island still have no power yet. The power on this island is mainly dependent on 3 generators, and sometimes they do not work well. At present, an undersea power cable from the mainland is under installation to supply power for the island in future.
4. Photo No. 10 – Còi biên mai nướng (Grilled scallop) is a seafood that you should not miss. It’s only served on this island and no where else. Restaurant address: No. 7, Trần Hưng Đạo street, Dương Đông town.
5. There are some bungalows on the Long Beach (Bãi Dài), however it’s quite far from the airport (30km). Most tourists still choose Dương Đông town to stay. Hotels on this island are not cheap if you compare with the mainland.
This is my last big trip in 2010. Even though this is not a good year for me, I’ve done 7 trips with 14 flights to 4 countries and 5 provinces in Vietnam. The new camera and the gift from Viettelco also made me happy. As for Travel Blog, it was my honor to join the moderators forum and be listed in the Hall of Fame. I still like this website, however I find hard to get used to the new font after every upgrade. Right now I don’t expect I will travel a lot next year, but anyhow we’ll wait and see.