With Phu Quoc’s beaches and easy-going lifestyle, it’d be easy to overlook the fact that the island hasn’t always been so peaceful. This was a major base of operations for the American and South Vietnamese armies, who maintained a POW camp here known as the Coconut Tree Prison.
On the northern coast of Phu Quoc, we discovered a gorgeous beach, totally devoid of other people. After laying down our towels, we stepped cautiously into the water. It was shallow and perfectly warm, but we had to enter extremely slowly, to avoid stepping on the hundreds of starfish strewn about the floor.
As ketchup is to Americans, salsa to Mexicans, and Vegemite to Australians, so is fish sauce to the Vietnamese. This condiment is never missing from the table, and there are few dishes which which they won’t drench the stuff. One of the most important regions for the production of fish sauce is Phu Quoc, where we visited a factory to see how it’s made (hint: it involves fish).
Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s largest island, lays 50 kilometers off the country’s southern tip, actually closer to mainland Cambodia. Although it’s seen an explosion in tourism in recent years, Phu Quoc remains a relatively unknown tropical destination in the Gulf of Thailand. We spent four days there.
Our first month in Saigon was just like our first motor-taxi ride: fast, fun, scary, exhilarating, and over before we knew what was happening. This city is a blast. We’ve had an amazing time getting comfortable with its pace, and getting to know its history, culture, people and food.
On the outskirts of Vinh Long, a set of factories produces bricks, vases, statues and a million other ceramics. With towering brick kilns poking out of the palm trees like the stupas of Angkor Wat and an absolutely relaxed policy toward visitors, visiting them make for a unique and rewarding excursion.