Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Ahhhh Rach Gia to Phu Quoc, Vietnam, Sunday, 11 March 2007 8:00pm

Another early morning, much to our chagrin. I'm not sure exactly what the PA system nearby was blaring at 5am. The first bit sounded like calisthenics. After that maybe it was Glorious People's Working Anthems. Hard to say. It stopped around 7:30. A little later the cafes started playing music. Much to my amusement, there was a mix of "Dragostea din Tei" (aka "The Numa Numa Dance"), just like I'd heard in Chiclayo, Peru.

At 9, a guy arrived at our hotel on a scooter to sell us tickets on the fast boat. We'd had to settle for spending an extra day in Rach Gia because the boats today were sold out... or so we thought. The explanation about where, exactly, we were supposed to go was confusing enough that we resolved to locate it today so we wouldn't have any unpleasant surprised at 7:30am tomorrow.

We had breakfast at a streetside restaurant with kiddie-sized tables. I had pho tai nam, and Jessica had a banh mi omelette. I'd thought "banh mi" meant "sandwich", but it turns out to mean "bread". Jessica was a little worried that that bread was all she'd get, but they brought out the eggs a minute or two later.

After breakfast, we set out to find the docks. As we got close, guys on scooters started asking us if we wanted to go to Phu Quoc today.... We'd been told by multiple tour agents that the boats today were full, and even that the boat in the afternoon had been cancelled, but here were people waving around what looked like tickets for a departure in two hours. After a bit of waffling and my suggestion that the come to see us on the boat before I paid them (impossible, I was told), we ended up buying the tickets. I took them to the office of the appropriate boat company and asked where the boat left from and showed them the ticktets. They said it left from the end of the dock, rather than "What? That's not one of our tickets!" So far, so good.

We went back to our hotel, told them we were checking out, packed our stuff (including the still-wet clothes we'd just washed), and walked over to the end of the docks. Half an hour and two bagged sodas (the standard way to serve a to-go soda from a glass bottle in places where glass bottles get reused is to pour it into a small plastic bag and put a straw in it. These sodas had the additional enhancement of a rubber band around the neck of the bag so they were easier to carry) later, we were on the fast boat to Phu Quoc. Three hours after that, we were in An Thoi. That was a bit of a surprise, since we thought the boat was going to Duong Dong, but a half-hour minibus ride would fix that. It wasn't the newest minibus. In fact, it's door fell off midway through loading. But it got us to a cross street in Duong Dong.

A bunch of scooter drivers tried to get us to take a ride with them to our hotel, claiming there weren't taxis (which is not what the hotel had led us to believe). I was pretty hesitant about the whole thing. I've had enough motorcycle safety training drilled into me that the idea of riding helmetless with a lot of luggage makes me squirm. While we were determining that they didn't even know where it was that we wanted to go, they all got pulled over by the police (for blocking an intersection?) and a taxi pulled up. I flagged it down, and we were on our way. I feel a little bad about the scooter drivers getting cited, but since they'd blatantly told us that there were no taxis, I don't feel very bad (Update: the next day we discovered that the reason why we lucked out and had a taxi pass us at that moment was that the taxi company was a block away, so the scooter guys were being even more dishonest than we'd thought).

We checked into the Bo Resort, dropped off our baggage at our palm-thatched bungalow, and went to get our feet wet in the Gulf of Thailand. It was almost bathwater warm.

Sunset, Caipirinhas, and a delicious meal were a good conclusion to the day.