Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Phu Quoc Island

 Duong Dong Harbour 

 Duong Dong Market

 Lunch time! 

 Looking down to the market 

 Dried fish for sale
 Meat vendor

 Seafood at the night market 
 Fresh tuna bbq'd in foil 
 Long beach

 Mrytle flower 
 Special "Sim" wine
 Fishing village

 Temple in the south of the island

 Views from the temple
Sao beach

 Fish sauce factory
 'Coconut Tree' war prison

We arrived in Vietnam last Sunday, on the last day of our Cambodian visa, after another long and uncomfortable bus ride. We were sad to say goodbye to Cambodia and it's beautiful beaches, but we are so excited to explore what Vietnam has to offer.

After crossing the border at the Vietnamese town of Ha Tien, we took the ferry crossing to Phu Quoc island, which is actually closer in distance to Cambodia, but is part of Vietnam. When we stayed in Kep in Cambodia, we could see Phu Quoc island from the coastline. The island has undergone massive development in the last few years, and new hotels are popping up everywhere, with more being built everyday.

Unfortunately, this means that the tropical paradise that may have once existed here, is now being taken over by huge characterless hotels and resorts. Like most of the countries we have visited in SE Asia, waste management is an issue, and as a result there is a lot of garbage hanging around the river and beaches. It is really sad to see such beauty go to waste.

We stayed in the centre of the main town of the island, Duong Dong, which is where the touristy night market and busy day market are located. The day market is a completely authentic Vietnamese market, where you can buy anything from live geese and chickens, to dried fish and prawns. It is also filled to the brim with fresh fish, brought in by the local fisherman, and descaled and prepared for selling by the fish vendors. The atmosphere of the market is chaotic and lively, with mostly only locals shopping there.

Though Phu Quoc island is not our favourite place we have visited on our trip, our time here was not completely wasted. Our favourite thing about the town is that we have many local restaurants close by serving good, cheap Vietnamese food.  We have been eating a lot of noodle soups and Banh Mi pork sandwiches, and most of our meals are less than $3 for the two of us.

We also did a tour of the southern part of the island, where we visited different tourist attractions, such as the pearl farm and pepper plantation. We were very disappointed with the presentations made at both of these places, and we felt that these attractions were not worth visiting. Our tour guide however was really friendly and told us more information about the island than any of the places we visited. We also got to visit another beach, Sao beach, which is smaller and quieter than the Long Beach closer to town. The sand was beautiful white and the water was clear and warm, but sadly there was also a lot of rubbish on the beach here too.

Now we are back on the mainland, in a city called Chau Doc, where we will be starting our journey through the Mekong delta.

Thanks for reading,
Hannah xx

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Koh Ta Kiev

 Before sunset on our first night

 Common area/ restaurant in the treehouse
High tide by the magroves at sunrise
 Fruit trees

One of the treehouses

We stayed in the 'Parakeet Suite'

 A trail through the jungle


 Making new friends

 Walks on the beach

On Monday morning we sailed away on a long tail boat in the choppy seas to the nearby Cambodian island, Koh Ta Kiev. The wind was pretty strong that day and the only person who made it off the boat completely dry was little Charlotte, who had her mummy and daddy as human shields against the huge waves of water.

Once we arrived on land we checked into our accommodation for the three night stay, which was to be in a tree house in the jungle, with a view of the ocean. Our tree house consisted of a four poster wooden bed, with a mosquito net; a cane shelf and a wooden table and chairs. Oh, and a hammock to kick back and relax in. What else could you possibly need to enjoy the island life?

The island remains largely undeveloped, with only six accommodation options spread out across the different beaches, each one with their own small restaurant. There is no running water on the island,  and no electricity, although generators run through the middle of the day to around 11 pm at night. Once the generators are switched off and the music is off, the world becomes silent apart from the ocean's crashing waves. 

Koh Ta Kiev is the ultimate place to unplug yourself from everyday life and relax in nature. Where else in the world can you sleep in a treehouse, with only the sound of the waves to lull you to sleep? It is quite a unique place, but sadly the tranquility of this island is not set to last, with big development planned in the coming years. 

Our mornings on the island started quite early, with Charlotte waking up usually before the sun was even up. After breakfast we would walk along the beach and dip our toes into the water. Nathan bought a collapsible fishing rod back on the mainland, so he tried his luck out on the shore to catch some fish, but the water was too shallow there. 

Apart from enjoying the beach outside our treehouse, we also took several walks around the island, through tropical jungle and swamp. The vegetation on the island was really quite varied, and made for a very interesting and enjoyable walk. At one point, after walking through dense tropical jungle, we came to a clearing and experienced a different type of scenery, which reminded me of the Australian bush. It was so surprising how much the scenery changed in the middle of such a small island.  

Our favourite thing about Koh Ta Kiev was the amazing long stretches of unspoiled beaches. Nathan commented that there was about 200m of space for each person on the beach at one time. There is definitely no fighting for towel space on these beaches. You will probably have the whole beach to your selves!

On Thursday morning we sadly packed our things and left back on the boat to the mainland, thankfully on a much smoother crossing! The memory of this peaceful island will always be in our hearts ❤

Thank you for reading 😊
Hannah xx