I knew that the tourist boat bound for An Thoi on Phu Quoc island leaves Rach Gia every morning at 8:15 so I figured showing up at the dock before 8am would be fine, but no. It seems that the high-speed boat to Phu Quoc actually runs according to its published schedule, unlike anything else I’ve encountered in Vietnam so far. While I was trying to beg / bribe my way into a seat (it obviously wasn’t full) I noticed a cargo boat docked nearby. It turns out the cargo boat would be leaving at 9am and the ticket was far cheaper, of course, so I hopped on that one instead.
There are a couple of trade-offs with the cargo boat option, though. Instead of 2.5 hours, the ride was 9 hours and I got to share it with fighting cocks, barrels of stanky fish-sauce and a full-house of Vietnamese people, none of whom spoke a word of English. Normally this wouldn’t pose much of a problem but I made a mistake as I boarded the boat. A lady handed me a hammock and asked for 50,000d which I assumed was my fare for the trip. When the ticket-guy came around later on, though, I realized after much confused gesturing that I had purchased the hammock and not yet paid my way on the boat… They let me get away with giving only 25,000d for the ride so I let them keep the hammock and everyone was happy.
We pulled into An Thoi just before sunset and I got a ride to Duong Dong to find a nice bungalow on the beach. Since its the off-season on Phu Quoc there are far from enough foreigners to fill the resorts and bargains are easy to find. Without much haggling I moved into a great bungalow right on the beach for $4/night. They even stocked my fridge with beer every day!
I ended up spending 4 nights there, exploring a bit but generally doing as little as possible. I rented a motorbike to get around (the island is pretty big, much bigger than any of the Thai islands I visited) and visited some remote villages. I read 3 books, watched some amazing thunderstorms and put plenty of km’s on my rented bike… I saw only a couple other foreigners the entire time.