Saturday, January 16, 2010
The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful
So when we last left you I believe we had just finished a snorkeling trip off Phu Quoc Island….well we are still here. We had planned to stay for 4 nights, but all of the flights were booked until Saturday, so we decided to spend another two nights rather than taking the ferry back to the mainland.
We woke up to rain on our third day here. We were a little worried as to how we would occupy ourselves in this town with a full day of rain- but luckily by about 11am the clouds disappeared and it turned into a lovely day. We had planned to rent a motorbike and explore the town, but our plan soon changed when they dropped the bike off. With no lesson or instruction whatsoever the man put Kate on the bike, showed her where the gas was and was ready to send her on her way. Well Kate having never driven a motorbike gave it a little too much gas and almost sent the both of us careening into a wall. This apparently scared the rental man who suggested maybe we should rent 2 bikes since the roads were a little messy from the morning rain. We were both a little too nervous to drive these ourselves especially with the rental man’s lack of confidence so we decided to forego the motorbike and just find a taxi to bring us around for the day.
Our first order of business for the day was to find a new hotel. We decided if we were going to spend another 2 nights on the island we should do it at a place that we liked rather than at MJ’s old pad. We trekked up and down a seemily uninhabited dirt road and hit the hotel jackpot. After going and seeing various bungalows we settled on a small hotel set in a mangrove with cute spacious bungalows! Now this was what we had imagined a hotel here to look like. With our hotel settled we decided to reward ourselves with a beach day at one of the prettiest beaches on the island. We grabbed a taxi and headed to Star beach where out tour had briefly brought us the day before. The taxi driver who brought us offered to come back and pick us up later that day- and thinking this would be easier than having to find another taxi we agreed. Once we got to the beach we had a quick lunch and then set ourselves up on lounge chairs for the remainder of the day. We didn’t do much besides watch the cute puppies play, drink our coconut drinks and venture out to the sandbar to cool off. It was lovely!!
When it was time to leave we found our taxi man and set off back to Neverland. When we got in the taxi Kate realized that the meter wasn’t set to 0 and she asked the driver to fix it. He nodded his head and waved us off so we made a mental note to subtract that from the meter at the end. About 15 minutes into the drive we realized that we were going a different way back to the hotel. About 25 minutes into the drive we realized that this way was much longer and our meter was getting much higher than it had been on the way there. We tried to ask the driver a few times how much farther our hotel was and why it was taking so much longer but he kept shooing us off saying it was 2k back at the hotel. Much later when we finally pulled into the hotel our meter was about 100.000 dong more than it had been on the way there! Knowing we were getting taken advantage of we used a little trick we had learned from our Aussie friends on the snorkeling trip. We handed the driver the same amount of money it had cost us to get to the beach- 100.000 less than what the meter read. He gave us a funny look and pointed to the meter- we replied that the meter hadn’t been set correctly from the beginning and that we knew he had taken us a much longer way and that we were only willing to pay the price we had paid on the way there. He shook his head and got into his car and drove off!! He knew he had been scamming us and that we had caught onto him so he took his fair share and left!! We were so excited to have avoided another transportation scam! We fist bumped our accomplishment.
The last 3 days have been pretty uneventful. We spent each day laying on different loungers at different spots on the beach- it’s a hard life we lead. To break up the day we would order fresh fruit from the “fruit lady” who would carry a whole bunch of fruit on baskets over her shoulder and for $2US she would cut up a whole pineapple and watermelon for us. We tried all different fruits- watermelon, pineapple, dragon fruit, baby oranges that are juicier and sweeter than clementines and some kind of cross between an orange and a grapefruit that is delicious but whose name we don’t know. (Lyss-we kept debating which fruits you would be able to eat) fanother $2 US we both got pedicures on the beach which was very relaxing. The days basically consisted of us laying on the beach, eating and drinking.
One evening we took a sunset boat ride out to go squid fishing. We watched the sunset and were then given Cuban yo-yo lines and hooks. Our boat was not as luck as our last trip. But Kate did manage to catch on by herself this time. It was some sort of puffer fish and it was “no yum yum” (poisonous) so it was thrown back into the gulf. For dinner the boat crew cooked us up some squid porridge. It isn’t as gross as it sounds although not our favorite meal…it was basically overcooked rice stew with bits of squid chopped up in it. The crew grilled up some fish and squid we had caught and after a while our guide reached into the water with his bare hands and pulled up an octopus!! It was crazy!! So they threw it on the grill too! There was one character on the boat trip that was more interesting than the rest. He was some sort of Asian nationality and he was the happiest man you ever met. He caught the first fish of this lifetime and then tucked up to the table and spent about 2 hours eating everything in sight. After he consumed about 6 Tiger Beers--he started eating again. We don’t know where he was putting all the food. Our boat rafted up next to a cargo ship loaded with everything from a Mercedes mini van to empty water jugs…we jumped from our boat and walked across the cargo ship to the dock. We had a personal driver, his wife, and cute baby waiting for us…the whole family came out to see us pull up and the family smiled at us the whole way to the hotel. It was very sweet!
Speaking of meals…Last Night we might have indulged in some western favorites. And let us tell you it was AMAZING!! The lemon rum drink was buy on get one…never the girls to refuse a deal we gave it a try. Kate did not care for hers so Caitlin was glad to pick up the slack. (We might have hand dug the ice out of the glass and thrown into a bush before trying it…no dysentery here!) So THEN we ordered a deluxe cheeseburger and a croque monsieur. Delicious!!! We finished it off with an ice cream Sunday…it was one of the all type best meals! After dinner we went to pay for our bungalow and were told to come back in 15 minutes. Our passports were at the police station apparently! How crazy is that?! So we went and had a Saigon Beer before picked out our passports after their return from the po-po station.
Our first night in the new bungalow…Kate had one of the best nights sleep. Meanwhile Caitlin was awake listening to the things that go bump in the night the whole time. (with only a mosquito net to protect herself)
Our second night we broke out the reading lights that were a Christmas Present from Aunt Peggy. (Thanks AP!) In addition to being very convenient for reading in bed…we developed a very intricate flashlight language to communicate with each other on the dark South East Asian nights.. We call it Flashlight Language. A code of on-high-low-high means “Are you awake?” A response of nothing means “no“. On-Off means “yes, I am awake“. A rapid onoffonoffonoff means “what the heck is that wild animal and is it in the bungalow??”. Unless of course it is a Tiger…in which case you can speak up and say “Kate. Kate. Excuse me, other Kate, there is a Tiger in the bungalow.” We do not want any jungle cats in the bathroom. You, dear reader, might not see the hilarity of this flashlight language because you have not had your Saigon beers today. Its still funny to us though. Our second night was a terrible night sleep for both, although we managed not to have to communicate in flashlight code.
Side note: the water here is nice and warm and pretty clear but you cant stay in it for too long because these little things sting you all over your body. LA do you know anything about sea lice??? The Aussie family told us that was what they were called. Odd.
Today we took an early flight back to Saigon, rested and relaxed we were ready to face this crazy city again. We explored the town a bit and did some shopping at the big market where Kate did some expert haggling. Tomorrow morning we head to Cambodia on a 12 hour bus ride- don’t worry we stopped today and got road trip necessities- gummy bears and Pringles!! See you in Cambodia!!
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