Island Life

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There is a gecko in our bungalow who keeps trying to get into my peanut sesame rice crackers I bought from the woman in Hoi An. We’ve had to throw the whole melted mess into the rubbish – the gecko can have it!!

Here at the Thang Loi resort on Phu Quoc Island, little thatched bungalows are dotted in amongst coconut trees. Apparently this place is set on an old coconut plantation. There are all sorts of things here: geckos, which chirp, smaller, non-chirping lizards, rhinoceros beetles, all sorts of ants, cicadas (which bomb the tables in the restaurant, sit stunned for a moment, and then zoom off again), small hoppy spiders with white feet, and mosquitos – especially around dusk, when they come out with a vengeance!

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Further up the beach, where the people and buildings peter out, and you can see all the rubbish that’s been washed ashore (fishing lures, styrofoam, single plastic shoes, bits of netting, plastic bags, etc.) there are also jellyfish – ranging from small umbrella shaped blobs, to huge mushrooms with thick tentacles as round as my thumb. As well as the jellyfish there are crabs of all sizes, but mostly small. Perhaps the large ones are caught and eaten. Up there, you can also see boys and men reeling in these huge nets that they throw out, way out at sea, then haul back in again. Steve tried to take a photo of a couple of boats moored in the middle of nowhere, and a man shook a stick at him.

Hans said they could have been smugglers. Cambodia’s only about 20km away from here by boat. Surely many people come out in little boats, once it’s dark, and trade or sell cigarettes, gasoline – and people. Hans is the manager here. He rents this place from the owner, Reinhard, for most of the year. He’s german, 50, with grey hair cut in a crew cut, a completely laconic personality, and beer belly. From the sound of it he has a hell of a time with this place – the staff in particular. Apparently they fight and bicker between themselves non-stop, and to make matters worse, the woman who used to be manager and who was fired about two years ago, for “being greedy”, still tries to make trouble with Sau, the current manager.

Sau called the police because this woman and her family stop her every morning when she’s trying to get to the market. They threaten to do things like throw nails on the road, etc. There was a huge fight over here one day, that I could hear from the balcony of our bungalow, where I was reading. Apparently the woman wasn’t happy after being visited by the police.

Sau, which means ‘six’ in Vietnamese, is the sixth of eight children. She’s now 62, and is working here to help out her family who live in the Mekong Delta somewhere. She really really misses them, but the pay is good here. The hassle from the woman down the road doesn’t seem worth it though. She said it’s difficult to find work because back in the seventies, after the Americans pulled out of Vietnam; she’d been working for someone in the US Air force for 6 or so years. When the Americans left though, and the VC took over, she burned her papers – not a good look to have been working for the enemy. Her husband had been in the military too, but for the Viet Minh (or whatever it was that the Viet Minh became after Dien Bien Phu and the departure of the French). He apparently got rid of his uniform too. It’s all sad and complicated. You want to help but what can you do?

We have another two full days here on Phu Quoc, before we head to Saigon. We’re there for a day and a half but I suspect it’s not going to be the high point of the trip. I hope we can do something other than mope about the end of our holiday. It really has been incredible, and Sapa, and even Hue, seem like so long ago. I don’t want to go back to work, but I am looking forward to doing so many other things – to making some real changes in my life. #1 is finding a new job. What was meant to be temporary has stretched out far longer than I ever intended. It’s really time to move on.

I also want to get a bigger place to share with Steve. We really don’t have any room at all where we are. I don’t know where, but we need at least a couple of bedrooms, with good storage, a garage, and reasonably close to town. And some sort of yard! You never know, it could happen.

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