Rach Gia, January 18-20

I’ve been working on the logistics of this trip for awhile, wanting to have it all figured out as far as I could, especially over holidays. It’s really been a labor of love, as I love to plan, to solve puzzles. Travel is always one big puzzle, where the rules change frequently. Since we decided on Phu Quoc for Tet, all the best internet sources said that the ferry from Ha Tien was unreliable, but from Rach Gia was a sure thing, so I pre-booked a couple of days at the Palace hotel.

Everyone else on our minibus from Kampot took the shorter trip from Ha Tien…. The good thing was that Rach Gia does not see a lot of tourists, so there was really no concept of the dumbing down of the food here, and it was street stalls and popup restaurants for the days we were here. The bad side is that you couldn’t get a drink anywhere, just the watery local lager. The best part was…. No touts! I mean, none. We did have an elderly woman follow us down the street begging, but that was it. There was a grocery store nearby so Brent could get his Danish Butter Cookie fix, so that was good too.

There was almost nothing near our hotel during the day. It felt like an abandoned warehouse district. But at night, the chain-link fences opened, the corrugated metal doors rolled up, the tiny chairs and tables appeared on the sidewalks and streets, and it was a party. Each place had different specialties, served different things, so to figure it all out, we’d take a picture, google translate it, and then come back and order.

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A lot of the street carts only do one thing, so we’d take a look, if we liked what we saw, we’d just say “vang, lam-on” (yes, please), hold up two fingers, and have a seat. We hadn’t yet learned to count to TWO.

The first morning we arrived we went in search of the ferry offices, to book passage to phu quoc. We stopped for a coffee

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Which was delicious, and now I love sweetened condensed milk in my coffee again. Reminded me of my daily Cuban coffee habit from the Cream Puffery in Boulder.

As we made our way to the ferry dock, we walk by this woman grilling some pork that stopped us in our tracks, it smelled so delicious. So, we smiled, held up two fingers, and she smiled back, and called her granddaughter over. We were about to sit at the tiny table, but the granddaughter brought out a set of slightly larger table and chairs for us. It was funny, and a sweet gesture.

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And then she brings us this. Two days in Vietnam, and we’ve had really great food twice. There is great happiness.

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There’s a concept here called “broken rice”. When the rice is milled, there can be considerable breakage. This is the cheapest rice, and what you will typically find in street stalls. This dish was 25 or 30k dong, if I recall. About $1.50. When we went back the second day, she was so happy to see us. Like I said, there are not tourists here, so we were a bit of a novelty. We got the larger set up again.

On the 20th, we get on a ferry to Phu Quoc. It’s a pretty big boat, and there’s a flat screen TV showing a Rambo movie. The one where Stallone is in Vietnam, killing them. It’s really weird, because we are two westerners in a boat full of vietnamese. I talked to an Aussie who did the same trip, and she said they showed the same movie on her boat as well. *awkward*.

The Superdong

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And now we are off to Phu Quoc for 2 weeks.

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