After my little Ellie vs. Parasite hospital adventure, I spent 6 nights recovering in a hostel in Siem Reap. I treated myself to a little private room and watched a shedload of Netflix, to the sympathetic confusion of the hostel staff who kept asking me why I wasn’t better yet. Good question, my friends.
A course of antibiotics and a whole series of Brooklyn 99 down, I felt well enough to move on. My friends had left Siem Reap a few days before me as they’re on a tighter schedule, so for the first time, I was truly going solo. Gulp. To make up some of the time I’d already lost on my Vietnam visa, I swerved the 14-hour bus journey across the Vietnamese border and flew. I met an interesting variety of people on the journey; my favourite being a Canadian couple who had some funny stories and useful tips about their trip to Vietnam, and the most amusing the Chinese lady I was sat next to on the plane who asked me for my life story – and was horrified that at 25 I’m not married, but have quit my job to come traveling. Makes for an awkward journey when trapped in the window seat.
Life story delivered, I arrived at my first stop in Vietnam: Phu Quoc. It’s a (deceptively big) island off the south west coast, actually closer to the Cambodian islands I visited than any part of mainland Vietnam. I arrived early evening and put my friend-making skills to the test. Luckily, these came up trumps with a couple of girls in my dorm room from Manchester, who were good fun. We headed out for dinner and had a tasty Vietnamese twist on a classic British dish: pink snapper fish and chips. I’d recommend Pineapple Bar for good and affordable food, a varied menu and some good cocktails. The next day I wasn’t feeling too hot again so swerved the sun and hung out in the hostel sky bar. When the other girls came back from the beach we prepared to go out for dinner, but the mother of all thunderstorms changed our plan for us – dinner at the hostel it was! There was a lot of purple lightning (which I failed to get a good picture of) and the rain was so heavy the road looked more like a river, so glad we didn’t get stuck in that.
Yesterday, I was feeling a little better so decided to go and sit on the beach for a few hours. Our hostel recommended white sand Sao Beach on the other side of the island; taxis are expensive for this distance so if you can ride a moped, it’s definitely worth getting one for the island. The so-called Coconut Prison, an old French colonial prison, on the way to Sao is also worth a visit. Needing to stay close to the hostel, I stuck to Long Beach, which was busier but still lovely. It was really clear and sunny thanks to the thunderstorm, so I headed down to a place called Rory’s Beach Bar, which is a popular spot on the island. The food and drink are definitely overpriced but were good, and it’s a top spot for anyone traveling solo to meet backpackers from all over the world. They have a big deck and loungers on the beach, so I’d recommend for a day you don’t mind splurging a bit on the budget! Swerving the infamously-strong cocktails in favour of my water, I settled onto a sun lounger with my kindle. I enjoyed a soft-shell crab ‘banh mi’ for lunch and sat on the deck soaking up the sunshine. Managed some pretty good tan lines without burning – which isn’t bad when I had to sun cream my own back! One of the perils of solo travel.
In the evening, I was delighted to be able to meet up with a close friend from work who was on holiday in Vietnam. We knew we were due to be in the same country but weren’t sure if we’d be in exactly the same place at the same time – as it turns out, we crossed over on the island for 12 hours only so I’m glad I caught her! We sat on the beach catching up and watching the lovely sunset – the beach in front of Sandy Resort is a great place to watch the sunset, either at the bar or just down on the sand.
So, hopefully with the worst of my illness behind me, I’m moving onto the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City for a dose of history, street food, and by the sounds of it, a good amount of smog…
Until next time,
Number of strangers I’ve spoken to today: 10, including an American who thought I was Australian, and a German who thought I was Dutch.
Interaction was: amusing and confusing, as I’ve got about as English an accent as it’s possible to have.
One Woman and her Backpack x
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