We are traveling southeast Asia this summer. We are mainly traveling around Vietnam from south to north, but also visiting Laos for a short while. In my first post I wrote about rebooting on the paradise beaches and strolling around the markets of Phu Quoc Island.
As we all know if you want to get the most of what traveling has to give you must not stay at the beaches and around the touristy stuff. Dig a little deeper or walk that extra mile away from the areas that the tourist info maps show you. This time we didn´t even need to go the whole extra mile. One day sitting in a riverside cafe our attention was caught by the life on the other side of the river.
Here´s just a little glimpse of the everyday life on that side.
Easy riding around the island
My extremely short and highly unofficial empiric study says that a motorbike is the most popular mean of transportation in Vietnam. Understandably, for it is a great way to travel around here. Especially as a tourist you get the most amount of freedom going wherever you like and aren´t tied to timetables. It´s also small enough to get even to the narrower spots and on top of it all it´s very cheap. We rented a bike from our resort for the whole day and paid 130 000 VND (about 4,85 €). We probably would have got it even cheaper but we thought renting it from the hotel is the easiest way for us.
So off we went and cruised around the island for a day. Although at first it seems traffic in Vietnam is a chaos (Which it is.), driving is actually rather simple, as long as you don´t do any sudden moves. Just keep your own driving line and expect no one to play by the common rules of traffic in the crossroads.
We knew we wanted to go and see Sao beach which was highly recommended. Apart from that we didn´t have any plans, just some general ideas where to head.
So, how was Sao beach? Now anyone who has been to Instagram is probably saturated with images of absolutely stunning beaches around the world. I thought I´d post one above myself and don´t get me wrong, a part of Sao beach was definitely beautiful and if you are looking for a good beach on Phu Quoc, you should check it out.
But that´s just a half of the story. You see, when we keep seeing those perfectly composed images of perfect white sand beaches, we forget that that´s not the whole truth. When we first got to this beach we started walking along the waterline to our right looking for a spot we´d have just to ourselves. The scene was depressing and really showed... well I don´t even know exactly what it showed. Maybe it shows what mass tourism is doing or maybe it´s a sad reminder of the state our seas are in. Or maybe it´s about the recklessness of the people who use the beach or maybe the lack of infrastucture. Or maybe it´s a combination of all these. See the photos below.
Those are not your regular travel photos and probably not what you expect to see from a beach but I wanted to post these. You see when we keep seeing those perfectly cropped and edited photos of stunning beaches, we tend to forget that in many places that not the case at all. We´d all rather see those perfect photos of quiet and pristine beaches, but how long does it take before the only way to achieve that is Photoshop´s Patch-tool? And this is not just this particular beach. We´ve all seen this everywhere in the world. Plastic bags, bottles and other stuff that the sea has brought a shore or people have left there.
So here´s a little idea I got walking on a beach one day. You see, I am the kind of a person who likes to hang out on the beach but gets bored really quickly if there´s nothing to do. So I got this idea while walking along one of the beaches.
How about if all those beach resorts, hotels, bars or other companies operating on the beaches provided the tools to pick up trash and us sunbathers – while trying our best to balance between nice tan and that horribly painful burn would do some good and use the tools to clean the beach?
By tools I mean things like those long "arms" that you use to pick up thrash without using your hands and bags of course. People like me, who go to beach but get bored easily could borrow the tools and walk along the beach picking up thrash. At least I´d be happy to do so. I´d get some excercise and sun while doing some good at the same time. Companies on the beach or the community would also have to make a promise that they would take care of the full bags of thrash using proper ways. Picking up the thrash would naturally be completely voluntary, but everyone would win. People like me would get something to do, companies would get free publicity (logos on the bags, good reputation as a company that cares bout the environment) and above all, we´d help the environment and get cleaner beaches.
Well that´s just an idea. The other half of the Sao beach was lovely, if you are planning a visit. But saddened by the depressing sight on the beach we moved on and drove to see Ho Quoc Pagoda and Suoi Tranh Waterfall. Both places were definitely worth a visit and at the waterfall you got to dip yourself in the cooling water and swim under the waterfall.
Ok, that´s it for now. Until next time. While you are waiting go and check the travel stories from my older blog. Link on the right.