Arriving in Vietnam

While it’s only been one week so much has happened. Many adventures and misadventures. I think my track record so far is more misadventures. That being said I’ve enjoyed all my days here but I still don’t know if I like Vietnam. This is my most exotic adventure so far so I’m not sure if it’s culture shock or what. My official stance right now “it’s okay”.

Heres a recap of the first 2 days here:

May 20

Arrived in Vietnam after a very long travel day. I knew a 12.5 hour flight was long but I didn’t really realize how long until I was on it. 3 movies in and we were only halfway. Also China Eastern Airlines has some very bizarre rules, no handheld electronic use so my 7 hours of podcasts were useless and you can’t even have headphones in during take off and landing, oh and all the window shades have to be up during those times. Other than that the food was decent, entertainment selection was rather sparse.

But back to arriving, we got out of the airport and my friend who had been to Vietnam recommended reputable cab companies but we were so tired and a guy was there and negotiated a price with us and we didn’t want to wait anymore so we agreed. Got in the cab and drove to our hotel and the guy when we got there was hassling us to give him more money and we said no way the guy at the airport said the price we paid was it, nothing more. Later found out we overpaid by about double but small price to pay.

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The bigger issue was when we arrived at our hotel I had technically booked the wrong day. We arrived the 20th so that’s what I booked the room for but he said I had to book it for the 19th to get the room. Which makes sense now but at the time I was booking I knew we didn’t get a May 19, skipped right over it as we flew so I didn’t acknowledge the day.  There we are at 3am in Ho Chi Minh with all our possessions on our backs and no where to go. The hotel we had booked for the next night was full so we had to walk around and try and find one that could take us in. We went to 5 hotels all telling us they had no room until finally finding one. Hurray, a place to shower and sleep after 27 hours of travel.

Woke up to the blaring of horns outside the window, the sounds of Vietnam we were to learn. We went out and found some breakfast and Vietnamese coffee, I will seriously go through withdrawals when I get home. There was a lovely little city park across from our hotel that we were able to explore before our flight to Phu Quoc.

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Once we arrived on Phu Quoc the taxi took us to the wrong hotel and we thought maybe we should just try walking since it was only 30 mins away. Bad idea, we ended up all getting heat stroke. We realized we hadn’t eaten in many hours so we went across the street for dinner and we couldn’t eat because it made us nauceaus. Then it was back to the hotel to cool down in the pool and sleep.

May 21

Woke up crazy early, still getting used to the time change and got breakfast. I had trouble explaining that I’m vegetarian to the street vendor and ended up with just egg and bread. This will be relevant later.

We managed to get in on a day trip with Johns Tours. The first stop was the pearl farm which is an utter waste of time. You show up and they spend about 30 seconds shucking an oyster and showing you the pearl inside then the other 29.5 minutes are spent in the showroom. Do not buy anything there because it is so overpriced you can easily find the same thing at the night market in Duong Dong for a tenth of the price.

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This is the first dirty garbage beach we saw, Long Beach, but this is the norm here. The water is a giant garbage bin.

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Buy this for several hundred dollars

Next was onto the harbour and boarded the boat. My god the harbour is intense! Our boat hit another in the crowded harbour and they just yelled at each other, kept on keeping on. Went made it the first snorkelling area which was surprisingly good for how terrible the water is. Just imagine styrofoam balls all over the water with other trash, that is every beach here. There were a lot of fish and there were a few pieces of healthy colourful coral which was really neat.

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After the snorkelling it was back to the boat for lunch which was really good. One of the best meals we ate here. Then it was on to the second snorkelling spot which was lacking. The reef was very close to the top of the water and the entire top was dead. People were hitting it and stepping on it just killing it. The water was also incredibly dirty so you couldn’t see anything until it was right in front of your face. It was very dangerous and we chose to stay away from the reef because there was no safe way to traverse it.

The last stop was supposed to be Sao Beach but they said we couldn’t get down the road since it was being worked on. That was untrue because as he was saying it we watched tour bus after tour bus come out of the road we couldn’t go down. That was a pretty big bummer so then it was back to the hotel.

That evening we went to the night market in Duong Dong which was a great experience. That was our first time at any of the markets and it was fun to explore. Now that we’ve seen more places the markets all seem the same. There isn’t much that is unique. We did manage to find a fruit vendor who was singing karaoke with his wife and kept returning for his parts in between helping us. It was so neat trying new fruits, my friend loves fruits and knew all the unique ones like rambutan, durian, custard apple, and mangosteen. There was a rat scurrying through the vendor but I supposed you just take what you can get here and only eat fruits with a protective outer casing. Then it was home to bed.

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