We spent our last two days in Cambodia in the seaside village of Kep. Kep was just a quick tuk tuk ride up the line from Kampot and, from there, we could travel straight into Vietnam. Kep used to be a French colonial beachside resort, but it’s now primarily famous for its crab market and the dozens of restaurants selling Kep crab along the promenade. Kep beach is really nothing to write home about – white sand is trucked in from Kampot to make it more beautiful, but it’s a very low-key affair – a few people swimming, a few ladies hiring out loungers and families picnicking on the footpath tucking into bags and bags of crab. With six days on Phu Quoc Island just around the corner, we decided to give the beach a miss and hit Kep National Park instead. The Park is really well-maintained with an easy 8 km loop, and a few more adventurous detours that you can take along the way. It provides awesome views of neighbouring Rabbit Island and Phu Quoc, and you can also spot some of the crumbling mansions left over from Kep’s hey day as the Cambodian Riviera.
It was a very cruisy couple of days, followed by a very long travel day getting from Kep to Phu Quoc. In standard fashion, the trip went something like this – minivan ride, change minivan, minivan ride, wait for passports to be processed, walk across border from Cambodia to Vietnam, wait, minivan ride to the port, ferry ride to Phu Quoc, minivan ride to resort – done! Sure, we could have flown, but where’s the fun in that? Like so many coastal areas in SE Asia, Phu Quoc is in the midst of a full-blown construction boom. There are new resorts, golf courses and casinos going in everywhere. Luckily our wee resort was tucked away up a long (and very steep driveway), which sheltered us from lots of the commotion. Away from the hub of Long Beach and the main town there is also a variety of beaches all at various stages of development, and some lovely remote places to hang out.
Phu Quoc is renowned for its beautiful beaches and is also a great spot for diving and snorkelling. We’d been toying with the idea of getting our PADI dive certificates since we got to Asia, but decided we probably wouldn’t get the use out of it, so we signed up for a day of snorkelling instead. It was an early morning start to get out to the An Thoi islands just south of Phu Quoc. The sea was rough as guts which, not surprisingly, saw some onboard emptying their guts within just a few minutes. It was a hell of a ride, and nobody had high hopes for visibility or the quality of the snorkelling on the day. The captain did an awesome job of finding sheltered dive spots for us, and the day was much better than we expected.
There was a fair amount of sediment in the water, but we still managed to see all sorts of tropical fish, hard and soft corals, sea anemones, crabs and even a super poisonous sea snake (we didn’t realise it was poisonous as we were flapping about in the water trying to follow it). It was pretty cool, just not as cool as my unrealistic expectations of life under the sea, which I blame on Disney and Pixar. Every time I have been snorkelling there is an immediate (and irrational) disappointment that things under the surface aren’t just one great fluorescent maritime party. The fact that there are a lot of things coloured brown, or just “rock” coloured always disappoints me. I don’t recall much brown in “Finding Nemo” or “The Little Mermaid”. We got in three long sessions with the snorkels, before lunching onboard and heading home. It was a long, tiring day (especially for the little girl still vomiting in the minivan on the ride back to town), but a great day on the water.
And, what the ocean was lacking in fluorescence was more than made up for by our accommodation, or “Pleasantville” as Campbell referred to it. Once we’d got our heads around the fact that we weren’t staying at the much fancier resort up the road (two resorts – one high-end and one a bit more budget – sharing a website makes for much confusion) it was very pleasant indeed.
Aside from our day snorkelling, our time on Phu Quoc was very relaxed – we had a lot of time at the resort, quiet evenings out, a day on the scooter, a visit to the night market and plenty of beach time. It’s been a nice wind down, before we wind up again for our last two weeks before home.
As we get closer to returning home, we’ve spent a lot of time chatting about what we’re looking forward to, and what we’re dreading. The list of things we’re looking forward to goes a little something like this:
- Seeing family and friends
- Being reunited with our ginger-fishy-freckle-face fur baby, Henry
- Being able to drink water from the tap, and clean our teeth in the shower
- Toilets that can handle having toilet paper flushed down them (ie. no more rubbish bins for poo paper in the bathroom)
- No more squat toilets
- Smelling like something other than sweat, sunscreen and DEET
- Having clean clothes, clean hair and shaved legs all at once (ok, this one is mainly a priority for me, but my desire to feel like a “real girl” again has me sounding like Pinocchio at the moment)
- Hanging out in the garage, going bush, beer at the Workers’ and lighting the fire pit (no surprises whose wish-list this is)
- Home-cooking (at the time of writing it has been 2.5 months since we last cooked ourselves a meal); and
- (in no particular order) – Marmite, Vogels, corn on the cob, steak, feta, avocado, anything and everything from a bakery, kiwifruit, courgettes, hummus, mushrooms, kransky sausages, etc (Mum and Dad – you wouldn’t be totally off base for thinking this is my not-so-subtle way of adding some items to your shopping list before we get to Taupo).
Tomorrow we head to Hue, the last “new” place on our itinerary. Tonight we have the unenviable job of trying to get our bags under the 15 kg weight limit for our flight. It could be a very long night!