(By Nate and McKayla, Nate’s first)
Gooooooodddddd Morning Vietnnnnnaaaammmm!!! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, r.i.p. Robin Williams. The border crossing was fairly painless. At the crossing we gave our passports and a dollar to a woman, she checked us out of Cambodia, and into Vietnam. I loath giving up my passport for any amount of time, but she was fairly quick and it saved us and everyone on our bus the time and energy of carrying our stuff across no man’s land and dealing with 2 sets of customs. Taking the southern most crossing brought us into the port town of Ha Tein. From there we booked our ferry passage to Phu Quac island. 6 hours, 3 buses, a ferry, and a cab ride later we are at the T&T Resort in Phu Quac, Vietnam.
The T&T is probably our nicest accomidation so far. It has a balcony with a sea view, a\c, a fridge, and…..drumroll….a divider between the toilet and the shower! First thing on the to-do list in Phu Quac was find McKayla some ear drops and Ibuprofen. There was also some consideration of me getting my scuba cert here in Phu Quac, as I may need it down the road in able to keep up with my already knowledgeable\cerified wife (certified both in scuba, and also as in legally my wife, sorry for any confusion). After grabbing the meds, I found my way to the nearby dive shop, and sure enough there was a 3 day PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification class available.
McKayla had begun taking some antibiotics for her ear infection, per instructed by our doctor via email. As a side effect, we think, the antibiotics have caused angioedema of the eyes (a swelling hive-like irritationaround both her eyes, but the left is more severe). My poor, lovely wife is dealing with very painful ear and eye situations; me being the sensitive husband that I am, left her in a nice room and signed up for a 3 day dive course. I feel horrible but there is nothing more I can do for her. I hope she recovers quickly.
The scuba course was taught by an Italian guy named Mario. It was hard to hold back my plumber jokes but he’s really a cool guy. A Canadian guy named Derek and a French gal named Gwen took the class with me but Gwen was with a French speaking teacher. The first day we crammed in 12 hours worth of videos, class and pool dives. Nothing too exciting but we learned how to dive and what to do in case of several emergencies.
The second day we headed out on the boat with a few other divers and instructors. McKayla walked me up to my early drop off again this morning. Her ears have gotten better but her eyes are more swollen and painful. She sent me a nice side-by-side photo comparison of herself and Sloth (the monster/hero from the “Goonies”). I didn’t see the resemblance but it brought some humor into her shitty situation. The diving was great, though. We did 2 dives. For both we spent a little time completing underwater skills and then we were able to explore the reefs. It was fairly colorful and filled with all sorts of exotic fish and creatures living in, on and around the corals. It truly is a whole other world down there.
The restaurant next to our hotel was trying out a new promotion – unlimited free happy hour from 6:00 – 8:00. This meant that as long as you ordered food, you drank for free for 2 hours out of a list of 7 cocktails and 4 types of beer. McKayla was more than enthusiastic to show the owner the error of his ways. We ate about 7 dollars worth of food and drank about 15 dollars worth of cocktails. Something tells me that promo won’t last very long.
McKayla had considered coming along on the last day of dive school and although she’s feeling better, ear infections and diving can’t mix well; my scuba training confirmed it. So, once again, I made my way to the boat and back to the north islands. Again, a few drills followed by 2 reef dives. I was feeling more comfortable and confident than the day before. I saw some scorpion fish, a big bat fish and several extremely colorful reef fish. On my way back to the mainland I passed my final and am now a PADI certified open water diver. It was the only thing resembling work that I’ve done in 2 months. Ahhh… it’s a rough life.
Getting sick in a foreign country is the worst. Despite the difficulties of figuring out what’s wrong with you and how to get treatment, it’s hard to force yourself to rest when you’re in a fascinating new place. Every morning I hope to wake up healed… no luck, though. I encouraged Nate to take the scuba course. It was nice to have some time alone. The first two days I took it easy and went for a couple short, mellow walks and spent a lot of time reading. We have a really nice room this time around- a great place for some R&R.
There’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I’m able to successfully order and pay for a meal on my own in a foreign country. It’s not the same when I’m with Nate (or anyone else); it’s much easier when you have company. I had a lovely breakfast of coffee, a smoothie and a banana pancake. I ordered it off a Vietnamese menu from a man who didn’t speak English. Every successful transaction brings me a feeling of excitement that I hope never goes away. I had to use Google Translate at the pharmacy so that one wasn’t as fulfilling but I had no idea how I would otherwise communicate “antihistamines”.
The second day I was starting to get frustrated with being down and out. A great happy hour special came to my rescue and lifted my spirits… with some spirits. I left them a great Trip Advisory review. The food really was good. I even ate there for breakfast the following day.
Day three, my ears were completely healed up and the swelling on my eye started to go down so I got out and had a very productive day. I bought our ferry and bus tickets to Can Tho, went on a long walk to a temple and the harbor and toured the Phu Quoc museum.
The Phu Quoc museum was very interesting and I had the place to myself. Nate would have liked the place because they had an entire section dedicated to all the types of trees they have on the island. While he was looking at coral in the ocean, I was looking at it on a shelf. My favorite room in the museum had a room full of furniture made out of sea shells. Unfortunately, that room didn’t come with a description so I dont know how, who, when or why the beautiful pieces were made but I could still appreciate their beauty.
Another highlight at the museum was the end. Every room kept leading me upstairs to another level with more displays. I kept going up and up until I was lead out a door to a wonderful view of the island and ocean. A great finale.
While out and about, I came across an option to go nighttime squid fishing. My first thought was, ‘gross, I don’t want to go squid fishing’ but then I realized that I love calamari and I have a personal policy that if I can’t kill it, I shouldn’t be allowed to eat it. So I decided if Nate got done in time, we would go squid fishing. He didn’t get done in time and I couldn’t change our bus and ferry tickets to stay another day. So, I got a pedicure and manicure instead. Maybe we’ll have another opportunity to squid fish later in our travels.