Adventures as Miss Saigon

Beach Christmas 2010

Posted on: January 4, 2011

And so begins the intimidating task of blogging after an amazing 10 day vacation…I debated about whether or not I should try to “blog as I go” in hopes that I wouldn’t miss posting anything that way, but I didn’t want to miss a minute of the adventure. (Wifi was also difficult to come by at times throughout our trip.)

First off, let me lay out how I’m going to attempt to cover 10 days and 1000s of pictures…I think I’ll break the trip into 4 separate blogs…We traveled to 4 different cities/areas in the 10 days we were away – Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Koh Kong in Cambodia and Sihanoukville in Cambodia. As for pictures, I’m going to try and post just enough, but not too many so that you’re sick of someone else’s vacation photos! Wish me luck! Hold on tight…like our many bus trips through Cambodia, it’s going to be a loooong and bumpy ride!

Christmas seems like ages ago at this point, but Christmas eve morning (at 4am) is when the fun all began. Our flight to Phu Quoc Island left HCMC at 7am, so between packing and all the excitement, I didn’t sleep much the night before we left! Phu Quoc Island is “fringed with exquisite white-sand beaches lined with swaying palms and gently lapping turquoise waters…tourism is set to take off in Phu Quoc, with the Vietnamese touting it as the next Phuket. For now, Phu Quoc remains blissfully undeveloped…” (quotes courtesy of LP Vietnam…and they weren’t kidding!)

little plane to the island

window seat

flying into the island

After a 1 hour flight on a small plane and a quick shuttle bus ride to our hotel, Wendy, Laura and I were settled on the beach by 9:30am on Christmas eve morning. We spent the day sipping coconuts, soaking in the warm sunshine and sitting with our toes in the sand. For the first time in a while, I was truly relaxed…it was an amazing feeling.

delicious coconuts

snowflake toes

white sand and palm trees

bliss

That night, we indulged in dinner and drinks on the beach at our hotel, and went back to our room fairly early. After a skype call home to the family, I got into my annual Christmas pajamas from my mom (mailed to me a few weeks earlier), and the girls and I settled into bed to watch a movie and wait for Santa. Like children, we were all excited for Christmas morning – to call home, and to exchange the gifts we got each other that were waiting by our teeny tiny Christmas tree that I had brought with us from HCMC.

pretend puppy

oh Christmas tree

one of many beautiful sunsets

Christmas tree on the beach

After waking up several times throughout the night to check the clock, we finally rolled out of bed at the decent hour of 6am. My mom and sister can confirm this, but I am the worst at patiently awaiting the arrival of Christmas morning. As soon as I get a gift for someone, I get so excited to give it to them, that they are often forced to open it early. If, for some reason, the gift makes it till Christmas, I am desperately trying to wake my family up at 5am to get the party started! Over the last few years, my family and I have started a new Christmas eve tradition that involves a themed meal (we’ve done Mexican and Jamaican meals so far) and corresponding drinks in order to get me drunk enough to sleep past 7am! Next year when I’m home, I’ll be requesting a Vietnamese meal and rice wine (or maybe mojitos, seeing as that’s my drink of choice here)!

Christmas pjs at breakfast before Christmas morning on the beach

After the skype calls home (thank goodness for wifi and my skype iPhone app!) and opening presents, we got into our “swimming costumes” (as Laura the Scot calls them) and headed back to our spot on the beach. I spent my Christmas morning relaxing with my book…relaxing with a cool beverage…and relaxing with a $2.50usd full body massage on the beach. It was decided that if we couldn’t be at home for Christmas, Phu Quoc was definitely the place to be.

my view for most of the trip

Vietnam beer, Vietnam beach

beach massage

That afternoon, we decided to do something other than just relaxing. My fellow Canuck, Wendy, wanted to learn to drive a motorbike, and everyone agreed that Phu Quoc was the place to learn. Renting a motorbike for a short period of time in Phu Quoc is cheap and easy to do, and you don’t have to worry about the ridiculous traffic that exists in HCMC. So, after handing over $6usd per bike for 2 hours (no names, no signatures, no talk of what hotel room we were staying in), we were off – Laura and I on one bike (with Laura driving) and Wendy on another. I’m going to leave a gap in this story here, so that Wendy can have the honours of sharing her motorbike experience when she gets around to blogging. To quickly summarize, she’s earned the nickname “wipeout Wendy”. I’ll link her blog here when she posts it.

paying before driving off into the sunshine

Christmas day evening we decided have some fun and signed up for a night fishing/squid fishing adventure. To get on our fishing boat, we had to hop from one boat to the next, to the next, to the next, trying not to fall into the water below! Fishing was…interesting. Everyone on board caught at least one fish, except me! I had nibbles. I had fish steal my bait. I even had a fish get away with the bait and the hook! The guy that seemed to be running the fishing show tried to help me out by handing me his line after he had done the hard work of catching the fish – all I had to do was pull it in. Three times we did this, and three times the fish escaped! Thankfully they still let me eat the delicious fresh fish dinner on board the boat that night!

goodbye land

the one that didn't get away

My skype call home that night was pretty emotional – it was Christmas morning at home when I called, and lucky for them I was on a boat until 9pm meaning I couldn’t call and wait them up at 6am Ontario time! I miss my family so much on a “regular” day…not being with them on Christmas hurt that much more. I also decided that night that I will never miss another Christmas with my family again. No matter where I go in life or who I end up with, Christmas will always be spent with my family. Promise.

On our last day at Phu Quoc, Laura and I rented a jetski and zoomed around the Gulf of Thailand for an incredible 15 min! (A 15 min jetski rental cost $15usd, so we weren’t about to go over our time limit!) We were the only jetski out on the water at the time, surrounded only by fishing boats. I’m mildly terrified of the water (likely due to my sub-par swimming skills), so lifeguard Laura assured me that if I bounced off the back, she’d be in to save me in no time! (As you’ll see in the next few blog, this is a reoccurring promise from Laura!) And thanks to our amazing photographer on the beach, Wendy, and the crazy zoom on my camera, we have some great pictures to show for our 15 minute ride.

setting off!

zoom zoom!

weeeeeeee!

wooosh!

hold on tight

And that about wraps up our Christmas trip to Phu Quoc Island…but Phu Quoc hasn’t seen the last of me! It was such a cheap and amazing weekend that I hope to return before my time in Vietnam comes to an end! We got home around 5pm on Boxing day, but there was no time for relaxing and looking through pictures…time for laundry, repacking and a few hours sleep before we left at 6am the next morning to get on our bus to Cambodia…!

peaceful

beach beauty

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8 Responses to "Beach Christmas 2010"

beautiful beaches! it looks so peaceful wow and you look adorable in your hello kitty pj’s!

i’ll take you there if you make it this way 🙂

It looks like a beautiful way to spend Christmas! You look wonderful and relaxed Megs!

thanks lady! hope you had a great christmas!

It’s not how I typically picture a Christmas vacation, but maybe now I’ll start thinking along those lines! I’m glad you had a great time laying out on white sand beaches while the rest of us in Hanoi have been huddled in our apartments closed off from the outside world of cold and grey 🙂 Thx for the post
Zac
The West Lake Review

thanks zac! definitely check out phu quoc before it really gets discovered! hope you had a good holiday!

Hey great blog have really enjoyed reading about your experiences. We are in Vietnam at present and are looking for accommodation on Phu Quoc. I wondered if you could recommend anywhere following your travel?
Happy Trails.

Thanks David! If you’re heading to Phu Quoc over the holidays, be aware that it gets very busy! All the expats from HCMC seem to flock there…make sure you coordinate your flight and your hotel booking so you don’t get stuck with only one of the two! Vietnam Airlines was the only airline that flew to Phu Quoc when I was there…not sure if things have changed. We stayed at Kim Hoa Hotel on Phu Quoc…if you can, book a bungalow on the beach! We booked too late and stayed in a garden room, but it was still lovely and only steps from the beach. Let me know if you need more recommendations!

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