White Sands

Never mind riddles off the sand I found some white stuff.

Took a trip down to Bai Soa beach that is on the south east corner of the island some 15 kms from the Paris resort.

The sand as you can see below is white

Bai Soa North

I had expected the beach to be quite deserted but it seems most people with motor bikes make their way down there and by lunchtime the place was very busy. God knows how the riders put up with the dust roads with cars and trucks passing them on a regular basis and leaving them driving in a fog of dust and grit. There can be no real delight in the 45 minute journey.

This is the view looking south along the beach

Bai Soa South

along with the bikers there are plenty of tour buses heading down to the beach that do pick up from your hotel. We chose just to grab a cab from outside and drive down thinking it would be quite cheap. However it is becoming clear that the taxi drivers eagerness to stick the meter on is for a good reason. Everywhere else in Vietnam and indeed in most South East Asia countries it is the first battle to be overcome. In Bangkok last month we were left on the side of the road by a cab that refused to go on the meter and was holding out for a ransom to take us to the airport. Here the guys can’t wait to get the meter on and going. The locals barter for a fare here not the other way around tourists go on the meter. Watching the meter is almost hypnotic as the figures dance round on the screen.

In Mui Ne 2 kms on the meter was about 20,000 dong (70p) here 50,000 dong . Okay not huge sums for a westerner but quite a sizeable mark up for the almost monopolistic Sasco taxi company here on the island. The fare down for 15 kms was 400,000 dong  ( £12) which is double the meter fare for the 20 km trip from Bangkok city to the airport.

Bai Soa beach boasts three bars and restaurants all selling the ubiquitous BBQ shrimp or squid or kingfish the menus are identical as are the prices all very egalitarian.

Bai Soa Beach Bar

Interestingly the bar we used was the first one I have been into where the loo wasn’t in the kitchen. Every other restaurant in 4 weeks here has had it right in the cooking area with the exit pipe from the gents urinals always going into the washing up area. Still at least you get to see how your food is cooked and with the usual lack of a lock and with the door also warped you can ask the cooks how they are doing as well.

On the way back the cab stopped at the Coconut Tree prison and asked if we wanted to go in and visit. Luckily we had been told all about it by a couple of Brits we met in the bar the night before and so told him to drive on.

Yes I know you weren’t there and are therefore none the wiser about such a nicely named prison. So let me tell you the name belies the actual place. the prison was built in 1950 by the French to incarcerate  “freedom fighters” while they battled the uprising . I read Graham Greene’s The Quiet American while in Saigon this time and the book is all about the fighting though no mention of the prison.

It’s real notoriety came however later under the puppet government set up by the Americans. The Red Cross on two visits in 1968 and 1972 reported incidents of torture and the museum there now has graphic graphics of the types of things going on. Nails into body parts and the barbaric idea of slowly boiling prisoners until they told them what they knew about plans etc.

Some 1,200 bodies have been found so far in the jungle surrounding the prison and it is thought some 4,000 perished at the hands of their torturers. A rather sobering part of any holiday down here in Phu Quoc.



2 thoughts on “White Sands

  1. As always an excellent story from a delightful man who (if I am correct and have the time change
    accurately) has a birthday today/ tomorrow Jan. 8th. For all of those who think it is appropriate
    to post best wishes this is your opportunity. Keep on tuckin my friend…hope to see you this year

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