We have been on Phu Quoc for over a week now! In the first 7 days we flip-flopped approximately 56km (35 miles) exploring the beautiful beaches, touristy areas, quiet back streets and the bustling town Duong Dong. In an attempt to both become acquainted with our new home, and find a literal home, we have viewed eight contrasting places across the island. These have ranged from a hostel with rooms, to a gorgeous but well over our budget two-bedroom apartment. After putting in the miles, we decided to move literally 450m up the road to two cosy, quiet bungalows for the next month whilst we fully embrace the search for retreat locations.
It was on one of our ‘let’s have a look down here’ wanders that we stumbled across our new temporary home. We walked into reception and casually enquired about availability for monthly rental. The response “My friend said you wanted something with a kitchen!”, left us slightly shocked that our search for accommodation is already on the public grapevine to the point where we now feel a little conspicuous just walking down the street!
On another of our excursions as we stood, slightly bemused, by a sign that looked like an advert for a property agent, we were approached by a lovely, long-term expat who invited us to look around. After sitting and chatting for some time, we learned that our research on the Vietnamese language was inaccurate. We had read that although tonal, even if you speak and get the tones wrong, you could be understood though it might sound like you have a very peculiar accent. We are being a lot more careful with our use of language upon the realisation that mispronunciation of the name ‘Thuy’ (twee with an upward inflection) means ‘you smell’ if said the wrong way!
During our meanderings we have scrutinised the shelves of recommended supermarkets and discovered many items for sale that we thought would be difficult to buy, and a total lack of others we assumed we would be able to (e.g. any spice or condiment other than salt and pepper of many varieties, and saffron!). We have also found amusement in some items, and wanted to share with you the most ironic… toothpaste that comes with a free Pepsi! Hannah’s greatest fear of being unable to buy cheese has been alleviated, and she was hugely excited to find pesto… only to translate the price and realise that it was £8 a jar! Naomi has also unexpectedly found dark chilli chocolate with a variety of different flavours, one of which is Phu Quoc pepper, and is delighted to report that it is extremely good.
Our first motorbike trip was highly successful, having rented one for the first time to explore the North-West coast. We were immediately very thankful for our working SIMs (4G!) and GoogleMaps when we realised that none of the smaller roads were on the tourist map provided. Enroute, we quickly became a mobile tourist-information centre for other adventurous and beach-hunting souls, who were either lost or unable to work out how to get to their destination!
On the business front we have also made progress! Estate agents as we know them do not exist here – there are no offices with photographs, prices and lists of availability for the local area. Instead, property is leased and sold through word of mouth, and apparently, laminated signs with telephone numbers stapled to a tree!
Through this we have now made contact with a local estate agent who we met for coffee this week. We are his first expat clients and he was most elated to discover that it was ‘two women’ in the business. After much GoogleTranslating, we hope to have some potential properties to view in the next few days.
We’re extremely excited to unpack the suitcases so carefully planned and stored in Hong Kong over three months ago. We’re pretty certain we have packed some random items as it all got a bit chaotic towards the end of our final teaching term!
A massive THANK YOU those of you who have already shared, subscribed to, and commented on our first post – your support means so much to us.
With gratitude and love,
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Brené Brown