Rangitoto Island

Guys. I have to tell you about how much I love this cafe. It’s my new home. There’s a “take a book, leave a book” shelf, couches, solid wifi, a decent selection of teas, a giant window I can sit in with my laptop, and a random little vintage pac-man arcade game in the corner. I’m obsessed. This is where I spend every morning.

Shipwreck Beach

Alright. Round 2 of trying to make it to this Shipwreck Beach tour. Today it’s at noon instead of 9am. Bless.

I get picked up hitching and make it early to the pick up spot. This is conveniently located in front of a super market, where I go in quickly to buy some fruit for breakfast/lunch.

Turtles and Caves

Committing to an 8:30am tour feels like the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I didn’t go out last night, I had a very chill day, but I haven’t had to get up early in weeks. My body clock is rejecting this. But hey! I’m goin’ to see a cool beach (famous Shipwreck) and some caves so I do eventually drag myself out of bed. 

White Party

Yo. While I think this island is crazy and might as well belong to the UK, I’m here. So I might as well immerse myself and get into the nightlife, right?! DJ MK is playing tonight at some “white only” party (attire, not people) and Abi got us tickets.

Greek WorkAway

It never clicks in that I’m really leaving until I’m already gone. I say goodbye to my friends, pack up my bags, and hop on the airport bus, leaving Barcelona behind me. It’s the end of an era!

Lagunas and Motorbikes

Lately I’ve been waking up early; I don’t even know who I am anymore. Maybe it’s just because there’s so much fun stuff to do and so little time to do it. Excited to start my day! Our plan today is to rent motorcycles and your around the island. There are some lagoons, beaches, waterfalls etc., that I want to check out. I wait until 9:30 to wake Ilona, who’s super tired and doesn’t want to go. That’s cool, the boys from Manitoba will totally still want to come with me. I walk the 10 minutes down a steep hill to their place to see if they’re ready to go. They’re asleep. I wake them the hell up. They’re still down to go but need some time. I hope by the time they’re ready Ilona will have woken up so we can all go together, but it doesn’t happen. It’s now 11am.

We rent 2 bikes for $25 each for the whole day (another reason we should have left earlier, to get our money’s worth). I want to drive my own but realistically I’d rather save the $10, so I just hop on the back and get chauffeured around. Our first stop is to a natural lagoon, “El Ojo De Agua” which has been built up and turned into a tourist attraction but is undeniably beautiful. Here they sell “coco locos” which are fresh coconuts that are filled with a white rum, dark rum, condensed milk and obviously, coconut water. Needless to say they’re amazing. An 8 year old boy chops open the coconuts with a machete, and his brother of maybe 12 mixes all the alcohol in. They’re a good team.


We hangout for a few hours, dipping in and out of the water which is cold and refreshing. Supposedly super healthy, too. I don’t remember all the details, but similar to the blue lagoon in Iceland the water is full of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your skin.

The food at the restaurant is absurdly expensive, like $10 for a salad. $8 for a quesadilla. Hell nah. So we go back to get Ilona (who, if she’s not awake, is probably dying) and all go out for lunch. We find her lounging in a hammock reading a book.
We go back to the boys’ hostel where the food is better, and I order another one of those giant beet filled caesar salads. Yummm.

We spent so much time at the lagoon that it’s now 3pm and the motorbikes need to be back by 5. Instead of trying to squeeze in a bumpy dirt road ride and 3km hike up to the waterfall, we decide to skip it. I blame everyone who couldn’t wake up before 9. Aka, everyone but me. Instead we get our use out of the bikes and just drive around the island. I get to drive for a little bit but not with either of the guys on the back of the bike, they’re too heavy and it’s weird. So I just take it out for a quick drive on my own. I wish it made sense to have these little scooters at home they’re actually so great!

By 5 we’re home and I’m ready for a shower and some down time.

As per usual, as the night goes on, everything shuts down and there’s nothing to do but head down to Little Morgan’s to chill with all the Canadians.

The best thing in the world happens to me. I meet two guys from Toronto who mention that they’re flying out of Managua on Sunday, which I am too. Later they mention that they’ve rented a truck to drive around Nicaragua instead of taking all the chicken busses and shuttles (they’re fancy). Shot in the dark but I ask when they’re flight leaves. 8:30am.
My flight leaves at 8:15am.

It’s a damn miracle. Also super weird, because they’re flying back to Toronto like I am, but they have a stop over in Atlanta while mine is in Houston.

They say I can totally hitch a ride in the car with them, and I am saved. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the long chicken bus rides and transfers I’d have to take, not to mention the unreliability that goes along with them. In the car, and with two other people who need to get to Managua just as badly as I do, there is very little room for error. I. Am. Stoked.

Bikes, Kayaks, and Angry Monkeys

Somehow, I wake up at 11:30. We’ve made plans to meet some friends around 9 to go kayaking and I panic, assuming we’ve unintentionally ditched them. But jk, I’m delusional and it’s only 7:30am. Now I can go back to sleep. But jk, no I can’t. It appears I am up for the day.
I spend the morning hanging out, reading my book, and admiring the view of the volcano in my backyard. Hard life.

At 9:30 the guys show up at our hostel and we head out to rent bikes. For $5, you get a bicycle for the day, which is a little more fun than simply hopping in a cab to the beach. Not that cabs are super easy to find here anyway. The road is rough; mostly composed of sand and rocks. Eventually I give up and just let my bike carry me over the bumps, hoping for the best. It’s a relatively hard ride, partly because of the terrain but also the sweltering heat. It only takes us about 45 minutes to reach the beach, but we’re all knackered when we get there.

We sit down to order some food and drinks before heading out on the water. Our food takes an hour. This is not an exaggeration. We’re not exactly in a hurry but we do need to have the bikes back by 5, and I am eager to get out and go! The food eventually comes, and to no surprise, it’s pretty mediocre. Not bad, but certainly not worth an hour wait.

We rent kayaks for $5/hour and are told it takes about 1.5 hours to make it out to “monkey island”. Sounds fun, who doesn’t like a good monkey? Our paddle starts off great but it’s a windy day and the water is pretty choppy. I manage to keep up with the boys for the majority of the journey out there, which surprises me because I haven’t kayaked in forever (Super duper proud of myself). We make it to this “monkey island” which is basically unaccessible. I assumed I’d be able to get out of the boat and chill, but nope, we just get to do a quick tour around it. We catch a glimpse of a couple monkeys in the trees, getting up close to the island for a good view. I manage to sort of wedge my kayak between two rocks so I can stay put, and not be pushed by the relentless wind. I think all is well in the world, but the next thing I know a monkey has run down the tree branch directly above my head and is HISSING at me while rattling the leaves of the tree. I’m so caught off guard, I’m certain he’s going to jump in my boat, bite me, give me rabies, and ruin my life. I’m about to die. I had a good life. Goodbye world. I don’t know what else to do but yell “ok ok ok ok!!!” and paddle myself away from the rock as fast as I can.

Mike is pretty certain he’s got a GoPro video of it (didn’t try to save me or anything, just video taped my near death)… I want it. I don’t really know how GoPros work (I know, I’m so behind the times) but he said he’ll get it to me later. He also got hissed at, so we left ASAP.

Originally we thought we’d have smooth sailing back to the beach where we rented the kayaks because the wind would be in our favour, but somehow it just made it harder to steer. However, there’s an incredible view of Conception Volcano the whole way back so I mean it’s pretty hard to complain. To prevent my phone from being lost I left it at the hostel and couldn’t get any photos. I regret nothing. I never tipped but I mean, is it ever worth it? I’ve lost too many cameras/phones for foolish reasons that I’ll (hopefully) never do it again. I have very few photos from this trip but I’m just too cautious and a little paranoid to bring it with me everywhere I go. I honestly don’t know how it survived so long is Asia. Miracle, really.

After the kayaking we have another beer before making the same bumpy trek home. At least this time, we’re prepared for the ride and brutal roads. We take it nice and easy and even walk up a few hills; I know my body is going to hate me tomorrow. It already hurts.

We go back to the hostel and recuperate. Around dinner time we walk back down to the only good bar in our area, Little Morgan’s, and have a salad because those are few and far between in Nicaragua, and some friends who are staying there told us they actually have a good Caesar salad. We make the walk again in the dark, this time, just the two of us. It’s totally fine and I feel much more comfortable.

The Caesar salad has beets and cucumbers in it, but it’s legit.

Tomorrow we plan to rent scooters to explore the crater lake and a waterfall. Ometepe is full of cool, naturally beautiful places, and I really really really wish I didn’t have to leave two days from now. Is it too late for me to pull an Ilona, skip my flight, and stay here forever?

Ometepe

BYEEEE SAN JUAN DEL SUR. Adios. It’s been fun, but I need to get outta here. A girl can only drink so many glasses of moose juice, and I have reached my limit. On to Ometepe, an island made up of two volcanoes that sit within the largest lake in Nicaragua.
We hop on a chicken bus from San Juan and ride back to Rivas. From there we get a taxi to the port from which the ferry leaves. It only leaves 3 times a day, and we’ve got an hour to kill so we sit down for some lunch. The dock area is pretty horrible. The water looks muddy and brown, and the wind is blowing so hard I get sand in my eyes more than once, so for lunch we sit indoors. We arrange a shuttle bus to pick us up when we arrive on Ometepe for $7. Even though the chicken busses are cheaper, we’d have to switch 3 times and it would take much much longer so we splurge for the shuttle.

Obviously, we meet two other Canadians on the boat ride over, because everyone here is Canadian. They’re from Banff, and have just arrived in Nicaragua to elope. They were married three days ago. I love it.

Our shuttle driver doesn’t speak English, but we communicate that we’d like a cheap accommodation; none of the 6 people in our shuttle have booked anything in advance. He suggests we stay in Santa Cruz, and drives us to a place where dorms are $8, but they only have 5 beds left. The other 4 people in the car are couples and seem to be traveling on a higher budget than us, they don’t stay. Meanwhile, we happily accept the dorms, which have an incredible view of the volcano Conception. Best $8 I ever spent.


I go to shower and when I return the two couples are back. Apparently the only two other hotels they could find were charging $70 a night for a private room. So the poor newly married couple have to share a tiny bed in a room with one fan, four strangers, and some ants on the wall. Primeeee honey moon.

At dinner, we run into some other girls who invite us to go have a couple drinks at the only bar that’s open late in this part of Ometepe, called Little Morgan’s.

Four of us start the walk down to the bar, and to our unpleasant surprise the road is entirely unlit. Ilona and I are sketched out but the other two girls seem fine with it. We seriously consider turning back. Randomly, we pass what looks like someone’s house, where an older couple are sitting on their front step in rocking chairs. The girl from Belgium in our group is pretty fluent in Spanish and I ask her to ask them if it’s safe for us to be out. They say yes, but go fetch a male backpacker staying in their home stay. They ask him to walk us down to the bar. Sorry we just ruined your chill night, man. He’s super nice and happy to do it, but says he’s been in Ometepe for a few days and believes it’s one of the safest places in Nicaragua. We end up getting kind of lost because the road splits off and we go the wrong way, but eventually make it to the hostel bar unharmed.

When we finally arrive, I confirm with the bartender who assures me it’s safe to walk around at night, but obviously doesn’t suggest I do it alone. The other girls and I make a promise to all leave together.

We meet MORE Canadians. Some Québécois, Manitoban, or from Calgary. I will admit there are some Aussies and Brits at the bar too, but the majority of us are Canadian. Such is life in Nicaragua.
On our way home we stop to look at the stars which are absolutely beautiful, because as I mentioned before, there is a significant lack of lighting on the roads.

Koh Rong

I wake up to the sun shining through our hostel window. Wait, why is no alarm ringing?! What time is it?! No!!!! My phone is dead. It is most definitely later than 8:30am, when we were due to catch the ferry over to Koh Rong. Sigrid was going to meet us at the pier and everything, oh my god, I am a terrible friend.
In my defence, the entire hostel room is without a single wall plug. In the hostel’s defence… It’s $1 to sleep there. Rats.
I wake Tamara, tell her we’ve missed the boat, and we scramble to get our stuff together before heading downstairs where there are a plethora of plugs to be used. I see that it’s 9:30am according to the clock above the bar. I order some breakfast while I wait for my phone to charge, feeling so guilty all the while. I’m used to being a bit late, but it’s rare that I miss something entirely.
The first thing I do when it finally turns back on, is message Sigrid. She’s surprisingly chill about us missing the boat, and says she’ll come back to the pier for the next boat at noon. I hope it isn’t too far from where she’s staying. She’s found a room at a guest house for all three of us to share when we do finally arrive. I’ve heard accommodation can get pretty expensive on Koh Rong, but apparently this place is only going to cost $4 each a night. Sweet!

We get our stuff together for 11am and make it down to the pier…on time. We pile onto a relatively large boat with a bunch of other backpackers, and take the smooth ride across to Koh Rong. When we arrive, we are directed to CoCo’s bar where we have to listen to a small lecture they call a “safety meeting”. It mostly consists of important information like; don’t try to ride the wild water buffalo, be aware that the power goes out every night between 3 and 9am, don’t go hiking alone in the dark, watch out for snakes, expect to get infected bug bites, and watch out for theft. Apparently, because Koh Rong is still so newly available to tourists and mostly consists of simple wooden guesthouses, they’re easily broken into and many things mysteriously go missing. When our lecturer starts advising us on which restaurants to eat at, we silently slip out and go to meet Sigrid. Ain’t nobody got time for that when there’s a beautiful island to be explored!
Luckily, the pier is about 10 feet away from our guesthouse, so even though us being so late wasn’t cool, Sisi didn’t have to walk too far or waste money on a tuk tuk or anything to come meet us. Koh Rong is even smaller than I imagined. There isn’t a road in sight; just a beach lined with modest guesthouses and bars. Nothing fancy, just bare minimum, bamboo, closest we’ve come to untouched, tropical beauty. Crystal clear tael water lies just steps from the doors of each building, making any lodging along the beach an ideal beach front property. You can’t lose. Sisi shows us to our $12 guesthouse. It’s just one queen and one single bed with a small table and two bug nets protected by four flimsy wooden walls. That’s all we need anyway. It’s perfect. We drop our stuff, leaving everything behind except for our towels, and head down to the beach. We walk 10 minutes down the shore just so we’re not so close to the “central” area, next to Coco’s bar and the pier.
We lay in the sun and take in our surroundings. It truly is a paradise; the most beautiful island I’ve ever been to. A few long tail boats are anchored just off the beach, and a couple even smaller islands are visible on the horizon.

A few hours later, Devin arrives. He’s earlier than the last boat is due to arrive from Sihanoukville, but definitely too late to have come in on the morning boat. He tells us he tried to save a few bucks by opting for the $9 slow boat, instead of paying $15 for the regular ferry which took us an hour. He was told the slow boat would take 2 hours. 6 hours later, after picking up and dropping off fruit at other neighbouring islands on a boat filled to the brim with people, he arrived in Koh Rong. He says it wasn’t worth saving $6.

We have a lazy day, playing frisbee in the crystal clear ocean water and laying in the sand. The sand flies are pretty relentless, but a few bites on my legs here and there is a minor sacrifice to make for this island paradise.

When dusk rolls around we head down to the other end of the beach past our guesthouse. Before we even arrived in Koh Rong people were raving about Sigi’s; a food stall owned by a Thai chef who once lived in Manhattan, but left that busy world behind to live a humble life on Koh Rong, selling delicious Thai dishes for $2 to hungry visitors. I order something called “drunken noodles” which I’d never seen before while visiting Thailand. It’s mildly spicy and entirely scrumptious. Definitely worth $2. We get there early enough that we can sit down and chat with Sigi a bit while he cooks. He’s only about 50, but exudes wisdom and inner peace. He lives in a simple tent on the beach just behind his food stand, and I’ve never met someone so happy. I foresee more meals here in my future.

We all sit outside Coco’s bar with some new found friends from all over. Chile, Denmark, Germany, the USA, and some fellow Canadians. We order round after round of the ever-cheap 2000 riel (50 cent) Klang beer and sit chatting in papasan chairs along the beach. I’m not sure exactly how this comes about, but Devin and the other Canadian guy, who’s name happens to be Kevin, manage to convince the German guy, Levin (I’m not making this up) that they are brothers. Devin’s from Calgary and Kevin is from Halifax, literally opposite ends of the country, but Levin doesn’t need to know that. At some point the joke escalates and they manage to slip in that their “fathers” name is Evan. It takes everything I’ve got to keep myself from bursting into a fit of laughter, but I don’t want to ruin the joke.

When the power goes out, and there’s nothing to light the sky but the bright white face of the moon, we go on an adventure. Phosphorous plankton surround the island, and someone has heard that they are best seen on Four Kilometre Beach; a 15 minute walk through the forest from where we sit now. I swam with phosphorous plankton in Thailand for the first time, and still value that night as one of my fondest travel memories. Regular swimming has never been the same since. I can’t wait to go and have my body movements lit up by the tiny little glowing blue plankton.

I grab my phone as a light for pathway to the beach before we leave. We can’t exactly be walking through the forest in the pitch black, with the natural moonlight blocked by the tree canopy, or we’ll never find the place. There’s a faint pathway to follow that has no doubt been created by the footsteps of other plankton chasers of the past.

At the end of the trail, we arrive at a short rocky beach. This isn’t what I had in mind, but it must be the place. We strip down and wade into the calm, dark night’s water. I can’t understand the hype about this beach; it’s million little rocks digging into the soles of my feet as I try to walk deep enough to swim. The tiny blue plankton glow beneath the surface, illuminating nothing but my legs as I struggle to find a way to swim. That’s when I hear Tamara, who has made it slightly further than I, shout back to me that her foot is burning. She quickly makes it back to shore, and I pull out my phone to inspect her foot with some light. She has at least three or four black sea urchin needles lodged in the bottom of her foot like splinters. We panic a little bit. Aren’t these things poisonous? We’re at least 15 minutes from the main beach, and I’m sure that the one single doctor on the island is asleep.
Shortly after we start looking at the splinters under the light of my iPhone, Tamara’s burning sensation goes down. Devin comes back to the beach with similar needles on his knees, but doesn’t seem too concerned, so we just carry on. No one seems like they’re dying.

We head back to the main beach anyway, in search of a more comfortable and less rocky swimming area where no one has to worry about being poisoned with sharp black urchin needles.
I put my phone in Devin’s bag and dive off the dock into the sparkly plankton-full water. Doing my best to soak up my incredible surroundings to be sure this moment never leaves my memory. Cambodia, and Koh Rong in particular, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I love it here. Going home in three weeks is going to feel painful.

When the beer haze and our infatuation with the plankton start to fade, we call it a night and climb back up to the dock. Devin reaches his bag first, and blankly states that it’s been ransacked. I laugh, assuming he’s making some weird joke, but then I see some of his things scattered around the ground.

Oh. No.
My phone was in there. Please dear god tell me it wasn’t taken!! I NEED that! I look around, panicked, and looking for any possible culprit, but there’s nothing but an empty beach and darkness around me. Devin loses an iPod full of music and a camera with 11 months of travel photos, I lose my precious iPhone, and our two Chilean friends both have their wallets stolen. I feel like an idiot for even bringing the phone out with me tonight, but we needed a flashlight! There’s no electricity at this hour, so I can’t even use someone else’s wifi to track it down. It’s gone.

I go back to the guesthouse and fall asleep feeling foolish, angry, and grieving the loss of my phone. It will surely be an adjustment… I don’t even have an alarm clock to wake myself up tomorrow.

Motorbiking Around Phu Quoc

Today is the day. After a motorbike accident in Thailand almost two years ago, I haven’t really tried to drive one again. There was a brief ride around Sapa before I got scared and returned it. Today shall be different. Phu Quoc is the perfect place to get comfortable on a bike again. There are minimal hills, the traffic is mild, and there are very few buses/trucks/large things that could kill me. Motorbiking is the only real way to get around anyway. Our hostel is at least an hours walk outside the town, and even further from the cooler, more untouched areas of the island. I see hills covered in jungle and I wanna go!
No tour companies have established any trails in the jungle yet, so we would get the chance to explore it completely on our own. Provided that I make it there alive on my bike.

We rent bikes for $6 each. My stomach is turning, but I hate feeling afraid of anything and know I’ll have to face this at some point. We aren’t asked for passports, a license, or any form of ID. Just 120,000 dong up front. I get on my bike, and awkwardly have to ask how to turn it on while simultaneously pretending I’ve done this before. The shop keeper asks me if it’s my first time driving a bike, and I say no. Which is true. I choose not to point to the big purple scar on my ankle to prove it.

I get off to a really unbalanced and slow start, but luckily there’s no one else on the road. It takes me some time to get used to the speed control at my right hand, but after some practice my driving becomes much less jolty. Corners are where I screwed up in Thailand, so every curve in the road fills me with doubt, but I make it through a series of curves unscathed and am instantly more confident. This isn’t so bad! I still drive at a snails pace…but I do what I want.

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We head North on the island and through town, to find a road that will take us up to the jungle. There are maybe 5 roads total on the map of Phu Quoc. While it’s a soon-to-be vacation hot spot, it’s still in the process of being built up (which is a huge shame by the way), so for the moment it’s pretty hard to get lost. We head straight North for half an hour before hitting a dead end. A small, gravel side road jets off to our left, and after consulting the map we figure it could potentially lead us to a trekking trail. We decide to follow it.
Feeling extra dodgey and unexperienced on the gravel road, I take it really slow and follow behind Tamara. The road just gets worse and worse. We hit sand, mud, more gravel, large rocks, and some steep slopes. I still don’t know how, but I survive. There are some close calls when driving through the sand, though.

The only things back here are farms and houses. After driving for half an hour and finding nothing, we stop at a fork in the road and discuss turning around. Just at this moment, a group of locals drive by and tell us it’s “same same!” “It’s okay!” and encourage us to keep going. We do. Another half hour of near death experiences passes when we find ourselves at another dead end. This time for real. Luckily for us, the dead end is a small farm and the family is sitting outside. I know that no one will speak English, but I hope that by showing them the map they can point us in the right direction.
I point up to the area that we’re in; the north west side of the map. One of the farmers inspects the map with me, and points to a mid-south eastern point on the map. We are in a totally different place than we thought we were. How have we ended up south east when we thought we were going north west?! I almost don’t believe him. The area he’s pointing to has a picture of a big waterfall next to it. I try to ask him where it is, and he points to a downward sloping tree-root covered trail just next to his home. He points at the motorbikes and I know I will definitely die if I am to drive down such a steep incline in a jungle. We motion to ask if we can walk instead, and somehow figure out that it’s what he meant for us to do in the first place. He was pointing at the bikes for us to leave them. Aha! Good thing we didn’t try to rip down that path on a motorbike when they were telling us to leave them behind. That might have gone over poorly.

We leave our stuff and set out on foot to the jungle trail. It feels so wonderful to walk. We meander, alone, along a sandy pathway and across a stream.

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The stream is good news, the waterfall must be close! We skip across dry rocks scattered over the water, until we come across a Vietnamese couple having a picnic lunch under a tree. We say “Xin Chao!” and keep walking, but they stop us, shaking their hands about and saying “no”. They speak no English so I can’t figure out why we’re being told we can’t continue but it annoys me. But I want to keep walking up the stream. It doesn’t look dangerous and I’m almost certain this is the way to the waterfall. I also doubt that they’re any kind of park official. Just to be sure. We reluctantly turn around anyway. They seem pretty adamant that we can’t continue. Rude.
We haven’t eaten yet today so we walk back towards the trail and stop to cut up a mango before going back to our bikes.

After driving along the same questionable, sandy trail all the way back to the main road, we are starving. We stop for lunch at a cheap Vietnamese restaurant in town. I try to order chicken Pho, because it’s cheapest, but am told there’s no chicken so ill have to have shrimp. No problem! It’s only 5,000 dong more and I am on an island after all. Tamara tries to order shrimp fried rice and is told she can’t. She has to order stuffed squid. What? Again, she just agrees but how is it possible that there are no shrimp for her but enough shrimp for me? Nothing makes sense. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a nation-wide joke just to screw with the tourists.
When our food comes it’s delicious though! Pho is even better with seafood, and Tamara’s stuffed squid is unreal.

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All for the affordable price of 40,000 dong/person.

From here we head South to find a beach. We’ve heard from friends at the hostel that the beaches in the South are even nicer than the one nearest us. We drive for another half hour or so before getting sort of lost again. We know we’re on the right road, but can’t find the side road to the beach. We come across a small turn off with a sign that says “do not enter” in big block letters, but we see a bunch of Vietnamese people pulling in on their scooters, so we follow too. Do not enter doesn’t really mean do not enter in Vietnam.

Just kidding, it does. We make it 20 meters before Tamara is stopped by a man with a huge gun. Like maybe an AK47. I don’t know, that’s the only gun type I know. He’s holding it, ready to go, it’s not just tucked away behind his back. He comes over to us shaking his head and we do our best to stay calm and act stupid. We didn’t see the sign. Isn’t this to way to the beach?? So sorry. Our mistake. Please don’t shoot us. Okay bye. How can I turn this bike around as quickly as possible?

We escape unscathed but WHAT road were we just going down? Hey Zeus.

We find another street jetting off from the main one. Just as we’re trying to figure out if it’s safe to venture down, the two German guys from our hostel pull out on their motorbikes and tell us that the beach is incredible. We’re almost there! Sweet! We have to drive down another sandy road but I feel quite confident on my bike now so I handle it with ease. The sand is white and so soft between my toes. The water is calm and although it’s busier than the beach we were on yesterday, there are still minimal tourists.

We float out in the salty water for a long time before returning back to the beach. I’ve discovered the most horrendous tan on my legs. Motorbiking has worked against me yet again.

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As we’re relaxing in the sand I hear a “Hello! You! You! You!” and turn to see a Vietnamese man approaching me. What did I do?!
He asks me to go over and sit with his friend for a picture. Best believe I am not uber comfortable taking photos with strangers while I’m in a bikini. I look at Tamara, then back at the man, shrug my shoulders and say fine. I don’t want to be rude, and I don’t think it’s a creepy thing. It’s just a being-blonde-in-Asia thing.
Tamara is hilarious and gets a photo of them getting a photo of me.

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They ask me questions like why I’ve come to Vietnam, if I am married, have a boyfriend, if I liked Ho Chi Minh City, and my age. Some of their friends crowd around and ask questions in Vietnamese to be translated. They’re all visiting Phu Quoc for a weekend from Ho Chi Minh. If I wasn’t sitting in a bikini surrounded by people all fully clothed I would totally love this. They have the best intentions though and I roll with it. One of the girls my age in their group asks if we can take a selfie before they leave. Of course we can!

Shortly after the group of Vietnamese tourists leave, we do too. The sun will set soon and we’ve got an hours drive before we can make it back to the hostel. Tamara gets fancy and takes a selfie of us driving on the bikes during the sunset. It’s so beautiful to see the sky light up and set behind the trees, but I don’t dare try to photograph it.

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We return our bikes and get back to the hostel safe and sound. Hoorah I didn’t die!! It’s official!
We meet up with some people at the hostel and go for dinner. We’ve got an early morning start tomorrow to leave Vietnam and move on to Cambodia. I feel excited and sad at the same time. I’ve only got one month of traveling left before I have to go home, but I’m always up for a new place and a new adventure. Bitter sweet for sure.