|Escape from Phu Quoc Island...easier said than done! Spent yesterday on a three hour hydrofoil ride from the island to Rach Gia, a small port city with nothing much there. Once we got off the boat, Matt and I had no idea how we were going to make our way to Chau Doc. As usual, the minute we get onto land, a couple of entreprenuers spot our clueless faces and grab us...30 minutes and a death defying-backpack balancing scooter ride later, we found ourselves being thrown on to a public bus to Chau Doc...quite teh experience!
Public buses in Vietnam are a hell of a lot different from back home! Sitting right next to the door, and leaning out the window, is the chain smoking bus conductor who spots people who want to get on or off the bus...as soon as the bus comes within 60 metres of the waiting people, he screams in Vietnamese at them, then orders the bus driver to stop. The people wanting to get on the bus are then given approximately 10 seconds to get their ass into a seat, and if they take longer than that, its just too bad...Matt and I make it on, although seriously pissing off the conductor, who doesn't speak a word of English, and keeps just nodding his head when we say hopefully "Chau Doc? Chau Doc? We go Chau Doc?!" We seriously had no clue if we were on the right bus, and both just laughed as it dragged on and on. We were such spectacles on the bus, it was like people had never seen "farangs" (foreigners) on public transportation before. Of course, people on the bus tried to sell us things, and we were continuosly poked in the back by a man tryin gto sell us a dead dried fish the entire bus ride...only in Vietnam!
However, in the end we made it here! After a day of exploring the markets here, and recouping after yesterdays long travels, we are ready to leave Vietnam for Cambodia.
Vietnam has been an amazing month for us...it was a country filled with a grim history but people who determinely look to the future and move ahead...We learned a lot about their culture and who they are, and felt really lucky to be able to explore the country before tourism here really takes off.
Vietnam in a nutshell: Conical hats, scooter-filled streets, hideous ball-dress shops in the middle of the tiniest town, wide white beaches, shimmering green rice paddies, strong sweet coffee, cylo "Where you go?", the elusiveness of fresh milk, noodle soup stands, streetside keg beer parlours, pyjama clad ladies, wrinkly, toothless faces filled with character, and 8$ a night luxury guesthouses (oh Thailand why don't you have these!)
Cambodia here we come!