The Russian Benidorm of Vietnam, according to a dear friend of mine.
After hours spent on buses and sleeper trains, it was a relief to simply relax on the beach. Hours melted away.
However, as I’ve said before, I am a big believer once you’re in a place, you need to explore rather than spend the entire time at the beach. So the next day, M and I visited Monkey Island.
I was hesitant at the name and wary of the treatment of the animals there. So I used Trip Advisor to have a quick read up on the place and, to not much surprise, the animal shows were the stuff of nightmares. We agreed to avoid the shows but hoped to see some wild monkeys.
We got a taxi to the harbour and during the drive, once again I was struck by how beautiful Vietnam is. Feeling like I’m living in a postcard is one of my favourite things about travelling. If it frequently happens I feel like I’m doing something right.
Both M and I squealed a little when we saw the island from the window, it looked so small and picturesque. I couldn’t quite take in the views during the boat ride over.
We had the boat to ourselves and it initially felt like we had the island to ourselves when we arrived. We were greeted by an empty, white gold, beach with light turqiouse waves lapping against the shore. We both had to stop a moment to take it all in.
We strolled under palm trees with wooden monkey statues lining the path. There were a couple of actual monkeys, but not enough to warrant the name Monkey Island. Then we got further in to the forest and soon they were everywhere.
Some looked viscious and I didn’t take pictures for fear they would take my phone, which proved to be a well-founded fear as one monkey ran and snatched away M’s apple juice. A Russian man and his wife came along, each wielding big sticks and bags of fruit.
“They can sense fear,” with an unbelievably thick, Russian accent. He chucked a piece of fruit at the ever growing crowd of monkeys, explaining the sticks were for intimadaton. One monkey climbed on this back. He yelped and shooed it off, then sighed like he got this sort of thing all the time. The whole conversation felt slightly surreal.
We spent the last couple of hours on the beach. I couldn’t resist that idyllic ocean and walked far out, the clear water remaining waist deep.
To my future self – you were very happy in a very beautiful pocket of the world.