After travelling this long in Asia, you do reach a Night Market quota. One of our biggest yet most exciting challenges has been to get off the beaten track and do things that aren’t the “tourist” things.
We spent a week in the small fishing village of Cat Ba Island. After my last post, we seriously needed to slow down and stay still and Cat Ba was the perfect place to do that. There was not a lot going on there…just a short tourist strip, a local market selling pigs feet, quartered dog and other delicacies for the eccentric (or brave palate). After a regretful street food incident, I can confidently say, with respect, that I do not like the taste of dog.
We explored the town, we kayaked through caves, dodged jellyfish and saw nothing at all when we went snorkeling. We learned the proper way to eat hotpot, worked on our billiard skills and met up with a fellow Canadian that we met on Railay Beach in Thailand during the first week of our trip that we keep running into. I tell ya it was nice to have a grown up to talk to who enjoyed the fresh beer. Fresh beer is a magnificent thing and a must try in Vietnam.
Somehow, we made our way to the south to Phu Quoc Island. We splurged on a mid-range beach resort as a treat, only to realize that we don’t actually like resorts at all. The food was terrible and everything was geared towards tourists (of course). Not sure why I didn’t see that coming 😉 But the beach sure was nice.
Somehow however we managed to connect with some of the staff and ended up having at least one super fun day hanging out with a very quirky, very wild Vietnamese family. We hiked to a waterfall expecting a relaxing swim and the sounds of the jungle.
Picture (if you can) a hike alongside a steep waterfall. As you climb you pass many strange statues of elephants and cheetahs, crocodiles, and tigers just randomly placed like forgotten remnants of an old amusement park. Hold on though…it gets stranger. All the way along this roughly 2km hike are people, families it appeared are picnicking and drinking and cooking meat on little camp stoves in the water. Swimming in their full clothes (long sleeve shirts and pants), and then the best part…. singing freakin karaoke. Every 20 feet or so was another little group with a portable speaker. Not all of them had a microphone, but some did. This wasn’t a special occasion, this was a regular Tuesday afternoon at the waterfall in Phu Quoc. It was the only time we heard music that wasn’t Justin Bieber or Adelle. Apparently, this is where they go to confidently and proudly sing their Vietnamese pop Karaoke. If this doesn’t sound like the weirdest scene to find on a nature walk…then I guess you had to be there.
Why don’t we do this kind of stuff in Canada? Again, we found ourselves confronted with our own lack of cool as we stood there like…well like tourists…trying to sort out what was happening as our new friends stuck leaves in their hair, jumped into the water in their work uniforms and banged their chests and screamed like monkeys under the rushing waterfalls. Needless to say we were super stoked and did our very best to join in and be a part of every second, and every joke we couldn’t understand. This is what it feels like to be outsiders. That was one of the best days in Vietnam.
Next we headed to Ho Chi Ming, Saigon City to meet up with a girl we met at that wonderful homestay in the north. She travelled with her sister and mother for 3 hours on the bus to come and stay at our hostel and show us around the city. These things…these are the gems.
Geez…do I go right into Cambodia now? This is where we find ourselves now. We’ve been here only 5 days. All I can say at this point is it’s an absolutely wonderful country. The people. Oh, the people. We are in love. If it wasn’t so expensive here we would stay longer…but it looks like another 10 days and we will head back to Thailand until the end of our Asian adventures.