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Daily routine in Phu Quok

No news about the morning routine, up at 5am, breakfast and then a short swim in the sea. This time to a small fisherboat that was anchoring offshore. Touched the anchor rope and came back (looks far out on the picture, was about 100 m 😀)

Even a big cruise ship made it close to us, seems to be a hotspot!

Spend my day surfing and reading, really relaxing. I found out that morning is the best time for beach (also it’s already quite hot, screenshoot of my weather app was taken after completing back from the beach), later it’s getting cloudy each day, that day we had even a little rain around noon (hard but only 15 minutes).

Before going for my beloved dinner I had to clarify with the reception my check out the day after. As I would go to Saigon quite late (scheduled departure 8:40pm) a late check-out was really deserved. I already asked when I arrived, there I was told I have to pay 50% of the room rate (500.000 or 10 euros) if I check out till 4 pm, afterwards 100% (I was asking to stay till 6). As I anticipated another one oat the reception will tell me something else I gave it a new try. Went there, asked the girl for late check-out. Till when do you need the room? Tell me first whats the price till when. Ok sir, it’s 400.000 till 5pm. Ok, I take it 😀 after accepting she told me I could have the room even till 5:30pm as they didn’t need it that day. To be one the safe side I let her confirm the thing in written and went for dinner.
Again to Nemo seafood.
This time I ordered as a starter fresh spring rolls (as the fried ones with seafood would have been to heavy). Not the best I had, very thick, doesn’t seem to be there speciality.

As main course I ordered this time tuna, really excellent! Never had a whole tuna in my life, enjoyed it a lot.

Again, with 2 beers I payed around 12 euros..
Afterwards only the usual stuff, drinking beer on the balcony and writing my blog.

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First day in Phu Quok

First full day in phu quok started early as always, here I am up now around 5:10am….
Breakfast starts at 6:30, so waited till a quarter to seven and went down. They have a nice Buffett here, with Asian and European breakfast, additionally the do eggs as you like them and pancakes. Went for bacon and eggs, looked for a bread, saw none. Asked for it. Oh, so sorry, we also noticed no bread, will come in 15 minutes. Went out on the terrace for a coffee and a cigarette, but after I came back they really had bread (or at least toast). Had some pancakes afterwards and went happy back to room. Did some shaving and dressed for the beach. Went there already around 8am, it’s hot here anyhow, why not. Reached the beach after a 3 minute walk, put my stuff on one of the boats that were standing there and went into the ocean. Really nice, a short swim in the morning in tropical waters, that’s something I really like 😀

Came out, let myself dry by the sun and back to the hotel (I am not the kind of guy laying on the beach the whole day, to hot and risk of a sunburn with my light skin at this time of the year to high).
On the way back I bought me some water and a Snickers for a quick lunch.
As I had discovered yesterday evening something nice the plan was now to skip lunch and have dinner instead.
Spend the whe.morning surfing the net on my balcony (currently looking for an emoped, will buy one in spring latest), had my snicker and then a nice nap.
In the afternoon I started reading a book, at 5:30pm I prepared for lunch.
Looked up the best place, highest rated on Google (in my area) was exactly what I had seen the day before.
What I have noticed the day before on my way back from the sunset watching was, that the restaurants turn on grills in front of their entrance and also have the catch of the day displayed. You can choose your fish and is directly grilled. As I mostly eat seafish only at the sea (as i assume there it’s fresh) and like it a lot the perfect place for me.
Looked at the display, saw the prices and had to ask if it is true.

The sign said one piece, I asked if it means a portion of the fish. No, A whole barracuda or.tuna is 149.000, that is roughly 6 euros (and comes with rice and vegetables)
Selected a barracuda as the last time I had it was in Honduras (and liked it a lot).
Went in, ordered as a starter prawn tempura (around 3 euros) and a beer.

Was excellent, stopped.after 4 pieces (2 were left) as.i also had the whole barracuda as.main dish.
Barracuda then was also nice, must admit I liked it more in Honduras as they most probably fished bigger ones, there it was like a huge barracuda steak with no bones, here I had to search for bones.

Was satisfied nonetheless.

Payed in the end together with 2 beer around 11 euros, for me nearly unbelievable (even in Honduras where it was also quit cheap the barracuda was 6 us$)
Went back home and was quite happy after a day with swimming in the sea and eating fresh fish 😀

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Last new destination in Vietnam

Woke up after a restless and hot night earlier than the days before around 5am. Today I had to travel to.my last stop on the journey. And every time I am going to travel in the morning I am nervous and up before the alarm. I only had to leave by 7:15 am, nonetheless I was up early around 5am. Unfortunately I have the same problem back home, eg in the last weeks before going to Vietnam I was flying nearly once a week to Innsbruck for one day meetings. Plane starts at 6:40pm, taxi picks me up around 5:20am, alarm is set for 4:30am, I am normally up at 4am… So did the last packing for the day, went down for a coffee around 7am, said goodbye to my host and was picked up by my taxi on time. Way to the airport took only roughly 40 minutes (against the predicted hour). Did a quick check in, also there where lots.of people they were really quick, obviously they are here used to lots of people. I had to fly again with vietjet air, the airline who cancelled my flight last time 20 minutes before departure, and additional reason for me to be nervous. Passed security, had still my 1,5 liter bottle of water with me. As they had no trashcans there I thought give it a try. Put the bottle on the tray for screening, no comment from them and picked it up again after the scan. At least I had something to drink for the flight 😀

Was then inside permanently checking the monitor for possible delays or a cancellation. This time it went smoothly, boarding was 20 minutes late, flight took 40 minutes so we arrived still in time.around 10:30am.
Last stop on the journey was phu quok (ok, not really the last stop as I have to go back to Saigon to catch my flight back, but the last new destination)
Was picked up by my hotel and arrived there 15 minutes later. Room looked nice but found out soon that the WiFi is more then weak. As I had no breakfast I decided for lunch already a quarter to twelfe, fried spring rolls and the other thing was a lot of minced meat with onions, fried basil and herbs with some rice. Was more a Thai dish then Vietnamese but ok.

Went afterwards to see and feel the sea directly. Beach is a 3 minute walk from the hotel, saw the beach, dropped my shoes and put my toes into the ocean. Quite warm water, I like it!

Had a nap afterwards and looked up a nice bar on the beach for watching sunset. Found one, walked there about 15 minutes on the street. On the way I saw lots of restaurants and bars, most of them having their signs also in Russian language, this is the downside here (also in the hotel), it seems to be the Russian quarter on this island (as I do not know the other parts, maybe it’s everywhere like this). Had a beer and enjoyed a really nice sunset on the beach. I also like this a lot 😀

The rest of the day I spent on my balcony, enjoying beer and writing blog.

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Shopping and a hot, lazy day

Another early wake up for a day were nothing special was planned. Truely speaking I overestimated the time for Saigon, 5 full days are to much. Had this time a very nice omelette with pieces of sausage and vegetables with toast, enjoyed it.
So had some shopping to do and started already early around 8am as I already knew how hot it becomes in this city later the day.
Nonetheless it was at that time 28 degree, headed for a co-op supermarket. Must admit I had not seen a real supermarket the whole travel, everything is sold here by merchants on the street, be it cigarettes, water, beer or food. Asked my host for advice and she showed me one on the map, roughly 20 minutes by foot.and still in district 1. Walked slowly, after 10 minutes I passed a coffee shop and as the security showed me to come in I followed the suggestion. Had a coffee in the shadow and continued my short walk to the supermarket. I had to bring Vietnamese coffee, a friend who has been to Vietnam twice asked me that favour. She sent me a picture of the coffee beforehand telling me I should by it in hoi an in the market hall, only place where I will get it. Showed the picture already to my host in Hanoi, they told me I can get it everywhere. Just to be sure I asked then my host in hoi an who told me that the coffee is from the biggest coffee brand in Vietnam and I would get it in every bigger supermarket. So true, in the supermarket I showed the picture, the asked me for the sort number (as they had alone 3 only in red …) As she didn’t gave me a number I bought all 3 red and a special silver one, hope she likes at least one of them 😀

Went back home and had to take a shower (it was only around 10am but over 30 degrees already).
Went out again, this time to buy me some souvenir t-shirts (I mostly buy t-shirts on my trips as a souvenir, I use them for sleeping 😀).
Strategy was as slowly as possible, cap and glasses on. Went till the touristic zone, there is then a park before ben thanth market. There I sat down in the shadow under a tree for a short pitstop.

Reached afterwards the market, bought 2 shirts. They wanted 450.000 dong for both, payed 200.000 in the end (around 8 euros, still way over priced as I found out later). Next trick I had is to visit one of the western malls, completely ac and therefore a good place to spend some time. Strolled around, saw a mc Donald’s and decided for a western lunch. Prices here are (relativel) low at mc Donald’s, big Mac menu (large) and Royal with cheese 7 euros. After the cool down I originally wanted to go home, on the way I passed the Saigon mall (like ben thanth, the merchants not so aggressive as there), went in, saw 2 more shirts. Asked for the price, again around 450.000, told them I paid before at ben thanth 140.000 for two, he asked me if it is ok if I pay here the same price. Therefore my first shopping was way over priced. Bought the two and went home for a shower and a short nap.

Went out afterwards in the same direction as in the morning to the supermarket (north) as I haven’t been there before. Sat down at a junction at a coffee shop (I like to watch the crazy driving, bikes and cars go on all sides of the street in different directions, it looks more then chaotic but it works somehow) ordered an ice coffee and as it was so hot I ordered for the first time a blueberry soda. As often, two.orders at the same time from one person is to much for some Vietnamese, got only the soda. Was the most awful drink I every had. Not because of the taste, tasted fine like blueberries but it was so sweet I was unable to drink it (on the bottom of the glass it had nearly 3 cm additional sugar, was served with a spoon to squeeze also the last sugar out, the people in Saigon like it sweet). As a couple behind me ordered beer I noticed that the also offer beer (most coffee shops don’t), so I ordered a tiger. Much better 😆 After the second one I went home to do my checkout with my host as I was leaving early the next day. Had a very nice chat whit here, showed here pictures from vienna (oh, so few people and so few bikes on the street, do you have lots of bikes?), Answered some questions with pictures of snow in Vienna (oh, very hard to drive bike when snow, but we never have snow here). On the other hand, Saigon has currently 11 to 12 million residents, more than 1,5 times the whole population of Austria… Payed my bill and gave her a nice tipp as I was all in all quite happy with my booking, central but still in a silent neighborhood.
Went after up to my room to have a couple of beers on my balcony, did writing my blog and called it (a last) day in Saigon around 10pm.

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Chuchi tunnels

As it was Sunday I received this time a banh mi for breakfast. Was ok also I have eaten better ones already. This time the chuchi tunnels were booked by my host for the morning, so I was picked up quite early, shortly before 8am. For me not a big problem as I am anyhow up around 6am 😀
Went with my guide to the car, was the first who was picked up, therefore the early departure. Asked him how many we will be this time, he told me 10 people. As I forgot to ask my host what she had booked I could not complain as last time … (she told me afterwards that she booked again for max. 9 people…). Went first over the bridge to pick up the next two (was also interesting as they normally only pick up in district 1, over the bridge is another district).

Back to district 1, picked up the rest of the pack. Interesting group, beside me we had 1 German girl, 2 Swiss boys, 1 Canadian, 1 English, 2 girls from Singapore and a couple from Malaysia. Took nearly till 9am to finish pickup and we were on the road. On the way to the tunnels we stopped after 60 minutes as usual (the whole duration till the tunnels would be 90 minutes), this time it was a factory were victims of the war (disabled people due to agent orange) produce paintings on wood ground with egg and duck shells. Interesting but bought nothing. Continued the journey and arrived at chuchi tunnels around 10:30am. Have seen how they were digging their tunnels and how they lived inside (sometimes the tunnels had up to 3 levels, going as far as 12 meters below the surface). Saw also how they ventilated the system (biggest problem, did it with bamboo poles coming out under roofs to be hidden) and how they have hidden the smoke coming from the downstairs kitchen (ventilated the air through different cooling chambers). Also so the traps they used to make the us soldiers afraid, really cruel!

Then we had the chance to go into in tunnel, 1 m high, 60 cm wide (formerly they were smaller as the Vietnamese are smaller), had an exit after 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100m, I had more then enough after 20 m …

Last station was a shooting range where you could shoot with (us) m16 or (Russian) ak47. Skipped that (especially as they wanted for 10 shoots nearly 25 us$, with the Austrian army I get it for free 😀)
And then it was already over again. Lastest close to two hours and we went back again. So started then dropoff of passengers in the same order they were picked up. As the last people in district 1 were dropped I told the guide he should drop me also close to ben thanth market, from there it’s a 15 min walk home and for sure quicker then waiting to go over the bridge and back again. Wanted first to go to a (real) supermarket as I had to buy some stuff (to be read tomorrow), noticed that I had not enough money for the expected price and walked home instead. Was there around 2 pm, took a shower (as it was incredible hot as always) and a short nap.
Googled first where to eat (as I had that day only breakfast, last days I managed to have lunch and skip dinner as sleeping is much better than), remembered then that my host had sent me some tipps also for eating. Looked up one restaurant close by on the map and went there. The Hoang tam restaurant was nice, nothing to special. Had spring rolls (that you have to roll on your own, ordered with minced meat, was to my mind pork with peanuts) and rice vimecelli with beef, was ok and the price was as always also ok (with two local bears 200.000 dong, around 8 euro).

Strolled a little around in my neighborhood afterwards and was home around 7pm. Had 2 more beer, wrote blog, wanted to go to sleep. After one hour just turning around and feeling hot (the late lunch and the really hot weather, here it is around 9 or 10 pm still 29 degrees) I decided to turn the AC on and try it that way. Worked better, turned it then out again in the night as my kidneys were hurting.

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Saigon City Tour

Went for breakfast after good night sleep, this time it was pho. With time I get used to eat, having for breakfast what we would have for lunch. Wanted to go to the tunnels today, my host didn’t book it (or she send me an email around 10:30pm if I still want to go, at that time I was sleeping already). No problem, decided to do the city tour on my own instead, especially as the weather forecast told a high probability for rain and therefore it should not get that hot. I learned again, do not trust the weather forecast, you will see later.
My host gave me a walking route, was close to the route lonely planet provides, so I did this. She ordered a grab taxi for me to bring me to the starting point, the war renmants museum (according to Google hardly 3 km or 38 min walk, but here it is so hot, she told me to save energy for the way home). Taxi was 30.000 dong and I walked out in front of the museum around 9:45am. You can see the history of the Vietnam war there, variuos tanks, helicopters, planes and other military stuff, together with the cruelties that happened (from agent orange to the treatment of prisoners of war). Quite interesting, but nothing for an empty stomach, some pictures were really hard to digest…

Went out, heard the obvious scams on the street (where are you going? Reunification palace. A, it’s closed currently, I bring you to a better place.. this I already know from Bangkok). Went to reunification palace, only looked at it from the outside (only a big building).. Had a short stop there in a shadow to consult lonely planet.and to get the new direction.

Walked for 10 minutes and arrived at Notre Dame cathedral. Most of the church is under renovation currently, so no going in, only taking pictures there. Directly beside the church is the old (french) post office of Saigon. Took pictures, was already around noon.

Walked South for nguyen hue street, the boulevard of Saigon. On the way there I passed the Vincon center, I noticed that it also a big (western mall). As it was quite hot (around 33 degree and no rain) I walked in. The nice thing with the malls is, that they are completely air-conditioned (yes, here I start to like that). I also had my credit card with me as I found on my first walk (after lunch with noel) at Saigon center a levis store and wanted to buy me some (a 501 is here around 60 euro). The signs at Vincon center were saying that they also have a store inside, so in to the coolness. Interesting thing is, that they have here outside the western malls always Christmas decorations, including snow white landscapes. And the Asian people stand sometimes in lines to take pictures in snow outfit (have seen exactly the same 8 years ago in Bangkok, learned that it is snowing currently in Vienna for real :-))
Inside the mall I went from floor to floor, first to the top up 3 escalators, then down again. They have here no floor plans in the malls ( was the same in Saigon mall), so you have to discover. They not only had 3 floors up, they also had min. 5 below ground level. On ground level minus 3 I found the levis store, only to find out that they have my size (34), but not my lenght (longest was 32, I would need 34). So they obviously have fat people like me, but they are small 🙂
Went some level further down as I expected food stalls and maybe a real supermarket (I still have to buy some coffee, I was told I will get it in every supermarket here). Saw a carly’s and stopped for lunch. Last time a saw this burger shop was on the us West coast, so I had to give it a try. Was really nice to have burgers, fries and onion rings, but still a big mistake. In the cool mall the burgers were really good, but coming out afterwards I noticed that the food was much to heavy for the high temperatures here. Walked from the mall to the city ball, took some pictures there.

Then just south the Nguyen hue to the harbour. Getting the last meters there was even for me after 2 weeks a challenge. A road with 4 lanes in each direction and no traffic lights. Managed it nonetheless, looked out at the river and saw a coffee shop. Ordered me a coffee and a cake (second cake in Vietnam) and sat down under a roof. Started to eat the cake and it started to rain. But not like in hoi an for days, here it is hard and heavy but lasts for 10 minutes and then it’s over.

Went after the rainbreak back over the challenging road and.headed for the bitexco tower. It’s the highest building in town with an observation deck on level 49. Quite expensive to go up (200.000 dong, around 8 euro) but you get a panoramic view over the city. Took some pictures, stayed always min. 2 meters away from the glass windows that went from floor to ceiling (i am afraid of the height, nonetheless I had till now here always rooms high up, currently I’m on 4th floor, the last hotels I had I stayed on 7th floor)

Went back to the boulevard, bought me a Vietnamese fan shirt for the evening and as it was already afternoon and incredible hot, I decided to go home and reached home after an about 25 minutes walk. Was completely sweated, my weather app told me that we had (around 3pm) 33 degree, feels like 38 (yes, it felt incredible hot). Took a shower and a short nap.
Dressed for the evening with my new Vietnam shirt and went out.

Was interesting how many locals start talking to you when you wear their shirt 🙂 Had 2 beer and walked home as the game started. On the 10 minute walk home Vietnam scored the 1:0. For the first time here I have seen streets with nearly no cars or bikes, also people that were sitting on the streets just looked into their mobiles, watching the live stream of the game. Arrived at my hostel, grabed a beer but my host told me I will not be able to see the game on (internet) tv as so many people are currently downloading the game. Told me I should take the beer and go to the coffee shop beside her hostel to watch it. Did that, again lots of people started talking to me (or at least they tried, most know only some words in English). Game was nice, no more goals so Vietnam beat Malaysia at home 1;0 (aggregate 3:2) and therefore won the south East Asian cup.

(This is a view on one of the main roads here, 3 Lanes in each direction and a separate bike lane on each side)

And then hell broke loose here (probably everywhere in Vietnam). Went immediately home, but even in my normally not so loud neighborhood it was a little bit tricky to find sleep….

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Meeting Noel again

PARENTAL ADVISORY: this post contains pictures of wounds (my own), if you are not capable seeing that stuff skip the post!
Had a pleasant sleep and went for breakfast.

This time they had fried noodles with a fried (cold) spring roll. As I am already used to the food here it was ok. Thought then what to do as I had an appointment for lunch. Decided on a lazy morning, discovered my neighborhood a bit, went for an ATM first (the first one was limited to 1.5 million dong, went further and withdraw the usual 2 millions). On the way back I stopped at a pharmacy. Another thing I didn’t mention till now.

At the beginning of my lucky day I found a strange looking wound (small, blistered like from a burn, long, not itching or hurting) beside my ankle on the left foot. After coming back that day in the evening I found a big wound (but very similar to the first one) under my right knee.

Can’t remember that I touched something with my feet or some other accident. As it was not hurting I decided to watch it. On the airport the next day I had time to Google it. As each wound has 2 small holes beside it it could be a spider bite. It is still not hurting or itching, doesn’t get bigger so i am still just watching it. But tonight obviously the bigger wound was punctured and some liquid is coming out. Therefore I decided to tape it to cover it now.
Bought some tape and covers at the pharmacy, the lady put it on the wound, i received the rest of the box (had to buy 10, with the tape it was around 1,5 euro) and went direction home.

Close to my hostel I sat down for a coffee, went to my rooms afterwards, relaxed and did some necessary hygenic stuff (like shaving, yes, the 2nd week is nearly finished).
Lady from my hostel gave me a printed map of the inner city and so I went around 11:45 am for the hotel of noel.
According to Google maps I would need around 20 minutes, was accurate as always.
Arrived as always early shortly after 12, noel came with his Vietnamese gifriend exactly at meeting time, 12:15.
Went with the two out, girl grabbed a taxi and we drove for about 5 minutes for his selected lunch restaurant, the Pasteur. Seems to be a fancy one especially at time of the day, we had to wait 5 minutes before we were seated.

I ordered rice pancakes (stuffed with pork and shrimp), learned from his friend that you slice it and than wrap it in some green leaves and eat. Very good.

As main dishes I ordered grilled pork and shrimp spring rolls with nooes. Was also very nice.

Said goodbye to the two of them (he invited me to come to the bretagne, I invited him to Vienna) and decided to walk home (could be max. 30 minutes, some interesting sights on the way). First I stopped by accident at the Saigon center, a western style, fancy shopping mall (with all the brands you also get at home, will probably come back to buy some 501 jeans here).
As the whole central place is a big construction site (they are building with Japanese help their first subway station) I had to walk some more meters. Was nearly lost but thanks to my printed map I found my way again and decided to see as a.contrast the ben thanth market. More a big old market hall where they sell everything, from clothes (everything origin obviously) to furniture to food. Was quite different to the Saigon mall…

As the area is the touristic zone I sat down afterwards for a coffee and a big fresh orange juice. Beside that is a crazy area I noticed for the first time that the are charging a 5 percent service charge (as it is not usual to give e tipps in restaurants they obviously found a work around, at least in the major touristic zone)

Went a little deeper into the zone, people were even crazier there, had a small beer (as it was already 4:30pm), had to pay again the service charge and left for home.

Took a quick shower at my hostel, asked for advise on a more local bar nearby and followed the advice. Was directly on the canal, sitting in plastic chairs, only locals and me.

Enjoyed it more than in the touristic zone!!