19th May – 25th May – Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc, “Quality fish sauce capital of Vietnam” – sounds like the type of place you’d want to avoid..and in places we’d definitely recommending avoiding it due to the sweet/putrid/fermenting fish smell that wafts around from the fish sauce factories…HOWEVER it was definitely in the Top 3 of places we’ve been to so far! It’s a small island off the south coast of Vietnam – check it on the map here
We’d picked it out as a perfect spot to spend some time chilling on beaches, trying our hand with the fly rods and potentially getting our Open Water Dive certificate. 7 nights later we’d achieved all that, met a few locals, drank and eaten our way around the island and soaked up some sun all at the same time!
We’d spoken to a number of people who were divers or had just gained their open water qualification – they all raved about it and we’d heard Phu Quoc was a cheap spot to do it so we signed up with Rainbow Divers for the 4 day open water course. Our instructor, Hoang, was a Vietnamese dude with outstanding English and could even pick up the Kiwi sarcasm – a very funny man while at the same time an extremely good instructor! Naturally Jono and I passed the theory side with flying colours and had no problems getting the skills down pat in the pool. The final two days of the course were open water dives at a few sites around Phu Quoc island, ranging from 12 metres to 16 metres in depth. Saw plenty of small fish and coral, unfortunately no sharks and my gas tank managed to burst it’s o-ring so had to go onto Hoang’s alternate air source supply – nothing like first hand experience when it comes to dealing with problems 16 metres down! It was an awesome experience and we got to know the dive crew well – certainly something we’d recommend anyone doing and now we can’t wait to get back to NZ and get stuck into some scallop and cray hunting!
We had a number of mates join us in Phu Quoc, Adam (the ball playing, spey fisherman) from the US stayed a couple of nights at Nat Lan (our guest house) – we enjoyed a few beers with him, plenty of crap talking and of course a few romantic sunsets…??!! Raj (looking rather concerned in the photo on the right) from the UK also came down for a few nights and we really got stuck into the kareoke one night. Raj pridse himself as a bit of a beatboxer/singer and was more than happy to sing Ronan Keating with Jono; not my cup of tea but each to their own. Most nights we recruit a crew of travellers and turn up at “Dog Bar” – a bar run my a classic Australian dude serving up cold beers and free pool. Jimmy (the owner) was always up for a yarn and we did a little marketing for him, handing out business cards during the day to potential bar clients!
On our second to last day we (a crew including Jono and Raj), hired motorbikes and got taken around the island by our dive instructor, Hoang. We stopped at an awesome beach “Sua Beach”, white sand, calm water and palm trees – a pretty magic spotso we stopped for a swim and a pinapple filed with fried rice! Oh…on the way there Raj managed to bail off his motorbike with Alicia on the back of it, no one was hurt but it was hilarous to watch. Our next stop was a local fishing village that had a huge number of live specimens that you could order to be cook including prawns, crabs, shark, snails etc. We let the poor buggers live another minute and settled on a beer (only one seeing as we were driving…!) That night we ordered up 5 pizza’s, had them delivered to the beach whereabout 7 of us drank beer, chatted and chowed down on some pretty top quality pizza while an electrical storm raged out at sea – pretty sweet end to the trip!
Phu Quoc is high on my things to do in Vietnam, I witnessed the most electrical storms ever (but it hardly rained most of it was on the horizon), enjoyed cheap local food and beer, warm oceans, got the dive ticket, sung a little “Wonderful World” at kareoke, motorbiked around the island and caught up with some great people. Vietnam definitely saved some of the best till last!