Since we left Phu Quoc Island on Monday we have kind of just been moving from one vehicle to the next. To make a long story short we just – took a taxi to the pier, fast boat to the mainland, bus to Can Tho, walked to a hotel where we slept, took a taxi to the wrong bus station, another taxi to the correct one, bus to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), bus to another bus station, bus to Dalat and finally a taxi to the hotel. The route map on the right side of the blog has been updated accordingly. This basically took us 35 hours and consumed all of my birthday., How appropriate to travel for 35 hours on my 35th birthday – but we’ll make up for that for sure :)
First a few words on Phu Quoc. Phu Quoc is a beautiful tropical island that the French handed to Vietnam when they were splitting their colony, French Indo-China and specifically the Mekong Delta between Vietnam and Cambodia. Phu Quoc is in the Gulf of Thailand and has been predicted to become Vietnam’s answer to Phuket in Thailand. Fortunately it hasn’t come to that yet and Phu Quoc is still mostly undeveloped even though it has a population of 85 thousand. Unfortunately we didn’t explore enough of the island but what we saw is very nice and we would recommend it to anyone interested in the 2beach life – just get there before all the big resorts and the pushy street vendors!
As for the other places, we didn’t stay long enough to pass any judgment on them. The decided to skip Saigon as we had heard that it would be big, very crowded and extremely chaotic. We only drove this one bus route through the city and it looked very nice and not more chaotic or crowded than the smaller cities we have been to so maybe we did a mistake by not stopping there but then again we have something to look forward to next time ;)
It is obvious that transportation vehicles come in all classes here in Vietnam. The boat we went to the island with was a very old wooden boat that at least would not pass as a passenger boat back home. The boat that took us back to the mainland was a fancy vessel that just shot through the waves with all 200 passengers without any of them getting sick or anything. The busses have also been of various kinds, everything from a minibus with no legroom what so ever to a big, brand-new and comfortable express bus. Most of the time we have been the only westerners on board, which is great. The Vietnamese are very curious and don’t hesitate a minute to stare at us any chance they get. They are also extremely helpful, often too helpful, at least you are never left alone looking into the Lonely Planet for more than a few seconds, someone always comes and offers their help. The biggest problem is that we haven’t meet anyone that can read a map and most of the time their English is very limited so even though they want to help they can’t. We are also maybe a bit too defensive when people are trying to help us, we often assume that someone is trying to trick us when they are being nice. A few times the locals have tried to take advantage of us and those black sheep spoil it for the ones that are just kind hearted, which is a big shame.
At least we made it to Dalat and we are very exited about Dalat. The town lies in the highlands, about 300 km. north of Saigon, in an elevation of 1,475 meters. Therefore the temperature is supposed to be between 15° and 25° degrees Celsius – a nice rest from the rising heat by the coastline. More on Dalat later…