Entry #43 of our travel diary. Spending New Year’s at the beach, in Phu Quoc Island
27-03 January 2017 – Phu Quoc Island
For some time we were sure that we did not want to travel around New Year. We wanted to find a quiet place to stay and relax. Thus, unusual for us, we booked a room in sort of a resort. I say ‘sort of’ because it didn’t remind of a typical resort. The rooms were located in small chalets scattered around a beautiful garden and swimming pool. It is also quite small and eventually we knew by face all the rest of the guests. Although we didn’t talk to anyone, we felt like at home having neighbours around.
My main amusement was going to the beach to swim. It was calm and clean, but no action, i.e. every day still water, no waves, nothing. Thus I would just take my goggles and do swimming for exercising. Nevertheless, it offered the best view for the sunset: seven evenings, seven different sunsets.
As there was not much to do on the island (especially in our area) for the New Year’s I convinced Luis to stay in the party thrown by our hotel. I sincerely regretted it half an hour after we joined the party. It was really lousy not to say more. And my mood was saved only by jump in the swimming pool with our clothes on at 00.01. And by certain amount of alcohol.
However, for me the highlight of the week was completely different. I met a first Latvian in 11 months! And he happened to be my dive master. As soon as I found it out, I couldn’t care that much about the dive any longer. All the time we were on the boat we would just talk. Naturally, for him it was also a thrill to meet another Latvian in Vietnam. A very nice guy is this Edgars.
It is 9pm on New Year’s eve. We are sitting at a table by the pool, eating BBQ buffet and drinking bad Vietnamese wine. Most of the other people are Vietnamese or Russian, families or couples. The “varieties” show alternates between classic crappy hits like lambada or macarena, local traditional music, dances and games. Kids are amused, adults are bored. I see two options to survive this: to kill myself or drink to forget it. Fortunately I choose the latter option. I went to next-door’s convenience store and bought a bottle of cheap Vietnamese rum to mix it with Coke. Time passed quickly and I just remember jumping in the swimming pool after midnight. The mix of Vietnamese beer, wine and rum did the trick, and next day hangover is proof of how bad the booze was.
How we ended up in this shitty New Year’s party?
Phu Quoc Island is one of the most popular beach destinations in Vietnam, both with locals and foreigners. In 2006 its beaches were voted the cleanest in the world. 10 years later reality is different and litter is everywhere. Over-development, no sustainable policies, careless tourists, all contributed to it. After some thought and searching we decided to stay in Ong Lang beach, a bit far from the main village, but supposed to be clean. And clean it was, as the beach resorts put significant effort to keep it like that. The drawback is that most of the accommodation options are mid-range resorts. Budget hostels and restaurants are very few. Hence, not much of party options. We considered going to the main village but taxis were very expensive and we were afraid or driving a scooter through the crowds of drunk people. So, we ended up in one of the crappiest New Year’s parties I remember.
Apart from that I enjoyed the resort and the island. The beach was clean and beautiful, perfect for swimming. One day we rented a scooter and drove around the island, visiting secluded beaches and fishing villages. It has its charm, but also too many ugly tall concrete hotels by the sea.
A new year starts and I keep travelling. Last year was in Malawi. I still have the energy and will, so we will continue a bit more.