Good morning Vietnam!

We left Kampot in very heavy rain in a taxi that promised to take us across the border into Vietnam to a ferry port for $30, a journey of around 30 Kms. Once we were in the taxi the promise dropped to ‘the border’ (6kms short of the ferry) and the price rose to $40. We soon got him back down to $30, but he wouldn’t budge on the border. Ho hum

As we drove (on roads that at times were the worst I’ve experienced), Bex worked out that the price we should pay on the Vietnamese side of the border for a taxi to the ferry was 150,000 Dong (about a fiver; info from Lonely Planet).

Ok. So we paid the taxi bloke and then walked through a very unbusy border crossing, which only required us to pay $1 each at two separate locations for visas that was meant to be free. Oiling the wheels of corruption … if we have to.

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And then the taxi to the ferry. There were four of drivers waiting for us … and the starting price was $30, about £25. I held out 160,000 Dong, to which I was first offered 300,000 Dong. Then 200,000. We walked away … and after 20 metres a taxi pulled up beside us and accepted 160,000 (just under £6).

The ferry terminal didn’t accept a card (£8 each for a two hour journey + 80p each for a bus to the main town on the other side) and the closest ATM was back over a big road bridge about a mile away. Thankfully we had some Dong (come on, no jokes, please) which I’d bought from Olly in Singapore, so we sorted ourselves out and had time and spare cash enough for a simple lunch. Phew …

 

The ferry was better organised than the Malay equivalent and was called ‘Superdong’ … and I’m now struggling not to pen some euphemistic nonsense.

We arrived in Phu Quoc in the rain and it hasn’t stopped. We’re at the start of the rainy season and, so far, we’ve been lucky with the weather. It seems that we might have run our luck. The problem with the rain is that you don’t see things at their best. Phu Quoc is meant to be a bit of a paradise island, but grey skies, browny-grey seas and a wall of rain dulls the pallet. It’s actually not a problem for us, in that the temperature has dropped and at least we’re not trying to see a sight or visit an attraction. But I do pity those who have saved up to spend a week in the Vietnamese sun, only to find that they actually signed up for a week in the Vietnamese storm.

 

The resort (Echo Beach, far away in time), is pretty perfect. Built around a private sandy beach looking to a horizon-filled sea, the villas are spacious and well equipped. There’s an infinity pool, a small gym and a pool table. And lots and lots of rain. I ran on Thursday morning, down to the main road and back, and whilst I popped out on one of the free-to-use bicycles to get some provisions, C did 25 minutes on the running machine.

The rest of the day we did not a great deal. I dipped into the sea, which was warm and busy. We relaxed, took a couple of bikes out in the rain and relaxed some more. We ate, again, in the resort restaurant which was moderately inexpensive, but easy.

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And woke on Friday to bright sunshine. We then spent two hours sorting out our final eleven days. We want to go for a cruise in Haylong Bay and also up country to the tea plantations in Sa Pa. They are both at the other end of the country … about 800 miles away … and we’re determined not to fly. That leaves coaches or trains and, as we tried to book we found that the sleepers were almost full. I won’t tell you how it turned out, but it looks like another adventure!

And an update on real life: books? Well Rosemary, my proofreader, should have the finished article ready for when we get back (19th) and my ambition is to turn it round before the 1st of August … the paperback maybe taking a few days longer. And then onto rewriting Unsuspecting Hero, which I am convinced is the right thing to do. I’ve got some new scenes to add and just generally smarten it up and put it more into my, now slightly more mature (and sophisticated?) voice. I am really looking forward to that. And then marketing in the late autumn … and launch into book 6. Hurrah?!