Phu Quoc III – A motorbike and a Bee

05.11.

After covering diving and relaxing on the beach I decided to do something else I have not done during my first trip to Phu Quoc – exploring the island by motorbike.

But of course I was in no rush so I was able to fully enjoy the breakfast without in a hurry. And it was nice to do so, sitting next to the pool having omelette, pancakes and a banh mi. And I realised that I am not too bad mixing my own ca phe sua da, having the perfect amount of sua to really enjoy my favourite cold morning drink. It seems I am a man of many talents…

Back to my planned activity. The hotel offered motorbike rental – an automatic was 200.000 Dong per day. However, the bike was not provided by the hotel but by a nearby travel agent Red River Tour. The automatic bike was in an ok conditions, though I had to insist that both front and rear brakes are checked, and after only 4 attempts I was happy enough with the brakes. It was a good reminder to always check the bike before heading off.

Unfortunately with my slow breakfast, getting the bike and fixing the brakes it was already 10:30 when I was on my way. But apparently I am on holiday, so I am allowed to be slow mover, right?

My plan was to explore the north-east of the island. So obviously I headed north from the hotel, following the coast line – on a very busy road. I was glad when turning into a smaller road with less traffic – which would lead me to the large road cutting through the island. The scenery along the road with rivers and fields was actually very nice. And here are pepper farms as well. Trees full with pepper corns. I have seen them in the Central Highlands before, but considering that Phu Quoc is famous for pepper it is nice to see them. So yes, this area was a nice to explore.

But the main reason I took that specific road was to  visit a local bee farm. Yes, you read correctly – I wanted to visit a bee farm.

The Phu Quoc Bee farm is on a little side road (which could be a challenge during the rainy season), which parking spaces for motorbikes offering some shade (nice touch). The bee farm is actually a very large garden, and you are welcomed with the sight of flowers, a pond and a lot of green, with a house in the middle. It felt so peaceful here (and very quiet). As soon when i got to the house I was welcomed and asked if i would like to have a tour. Would I? Of course I would.

The young woman (whose name I unfortunately forgot – I clearly do not get any younger) showed me around the whole farm, highlighting the differences between the local Vietnamese and the Italian bees, explaining about how the guard bees allows other bees to enter the hives (they have quite a few hives there), the names of the flowers and plans and provide details about the set up of the farm. We probably walked around for 30 minutes, and it was very interesting.

After all the exercise I was happy to sit down and try one of the local teas (lemon of course for me) served with their local honey. It was tasty and very comfortable to sit there for a while. Though I decided that I wanted to walked around on my own to take more photos. However, for some reason I declined the offer to open the top of one of the hives to look inside.

In the end I stayed 1 1/2 hours there and even bought some of their own honey (they have a wide selection, including honey with garlic, pepper or cinnamon – I took the normal one). Did I plan to stay that long? No. Did I enjoy it? Clearly yes.

After the extended stay I was back on my bike, travelling through the heat. Great timing. I followed the road until I hit the “freeway” that cuts through the middle of the island, connecting the north to the centre of Phu Quoc. Oh, this one was nice. A large road, with a barrier separating the two lanes. And the better part, I hardly saw anyone on the road. So it was a relaxing ride now, seeing trees on both sides, hearing these noisy Cicada insects making there, well – noise, from the trees.

My next destination was Rach Tram beach at the far north. So off from the nice new road and instead heading to a dusty road (thankfully paved – at least at the start). Were the streets of the freeway covered by trees did I see now more grass and single trees, with mountains visible in the distance. It was a nice contrast, and I liked it. While the mountains remained in sight the roads were then covered by small trees, with some water on the ground it looked more like mangrove area. It was nice to have different sights on one road.

Unfortunately the paved road partial disappeared as construction is still going on. So I had to swap from paved to dusty dirt roads back to paved roads. At least I got quite a few Xin Chao from the construction worker. I thought this was ok to the beach – but I was proved wrong again. No more paved road, just a sandy road….a sandy road that was now more muddy after some rain overnight. No having desire to fall off my bike or get totally dirty or soaked I counted my losses and drove the whole way back to the main road. Road 1 – 0 Stefan

Well, my plan failed so I took the free way to the end and arrived in Bai Thom. Instead of stopping there I continued the road along the east coat. I got a bit hungry and looked out for a place to stop. But for some reason instead of stopping at the first place I continued to followed the road, crossed some interesting looking single lane steel bridges that caused quite a noise whenever a car crossed it. At some point I just turned into a dirt path that lead me to a little beach with no shops. But it was nice just to stretch my legs a little bit, enjoying the view and the sound of the waves.

Well, my stomach won in the end so I stopped at a beach side restaurant – Friendly Beach Restaurant. The family living there seemed to be very happy to see me, as it was after 3pm and no other customers were there. Nevermind, I saw some nice huts along the beach with tables…and even some hammocks. So I made myself comfortable and got myself a fresh coconut – and for some reason initially decided not having some food, I changed my mind 30 minutes later. I liked the setting of this place. While the beach was very small, the hammock with view of the sea and some fishing boats was lovely. Having the coconut (the water was put into a large jar and the coconut was cut open to be eaten with a spoon), the hammock and the view really made me feel being on holiday – as riding the bike is hard work. Unfortunately the breaded calamari was a bit overcooked – but overall I didn’t mind. I liked that place. And when I left it was actually busier. I just arrived during their quiet time.

Considering it was 5pm when I left the restaurant it was time to head back. But of course that would be too easy – obviously. So I decided to stop at the Bai Thom Beach Bar, which is just a very short but even steeper hill from the road at the northern part of the beach. I read about so I had to check it out.  The very friendly owner welcomed me and this time I did not decline a beer – trying the new local beer “Kinh Beer”. First time, rather impressed. The place looks nice with loungers, and in the water I could see a few hammocks – yes it was a high tide so no beach to see unfortunately. Instead I saw a lovely bay with a glimpse of Cambodia in the distance. I could imagine this would be a nice place during low tide. However, due to the current that time of year the water was rather dirty with lots of oil. So I would not go for a swim here.

Beer finished and sun starting to set down I really had to head back to the hotel. Not taking any risks, I headed the same way back. Only difference – it got dark and insects were out to fly against my face. I really should brought my own helmet with face cover. So I drove in the dark with sun glasses to protect my eyes. Not nice I can tell. I was very glad to be back on the coastal road and thought I made it. Right? Wrong!!! I missed the little road to my hotel…and had to turn back. Great!!!

Just after 6pm I was back in the hotel, and I took the opportunity to do one thing straight away – going for a swim in the pool. Oh, being in the nice “cold” water was so refreshing. I could have stayed in there forever.

But soon my stomach (only having breakfast and calamari all day) told me to get ready for dinner. And usually I listen to this very important part of my body. Having nice dinner at the same restaurant for the last two nights I decided to walk to the main road. Tempted by the restaurant with a massive stone oven for Pizza I decided to go to the newly opened restaurant “Bird of Paradise”.

This is not one of the normal barbeques places in this area but a proper restaurant with a nice vibe. I liked the setting in the yard, but unfortunately all tables were busy, so I had to sit “inside”. I ordered the fried fish with passion fruit sauce and rice. It looked good – and tasted even better. it was delicious. Being still hungry I ordered some kind of cake – I cannot remember what it was – only that I liked it. So overall I liked this restaurant.

To end this long day I decided to try something new and instead of going to the Goca bar I went to the little Rock Bar on the road near my hotel. it only has a few tables outside (some with rather comfortable chair), but it is nice to sit here, having a local Kinh Beer and watch people walking up and down the road. One of the older guys working there had a chat with me, providing some information about Phu Quoc and how it has changed. It was actually rather nice and enjoyed sitting there. A nice little alternative for a pre-bed drink.

But after two beer it was enough and I headed back to my bed….

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