I’m pretty sure my mom will be reading this post so let me start off with: I’m still alive, I didn’t break anything, I didn’t hurt anyone else and I wore a helmet all the time. That should prevent the near heart attack, right mom?
Riding a scooter in South East Asia is a rite of passage really. It’s a convenient way of getting around and funnily enough, works out much cheaper than getting into a taxi or moto-taxi the whole time (these are not as cheap as they should be). Renting a scooter is way too easy – you literally tell your hostel you want a scooter and the next thing there it is, for the grand total of $6 a day. Drivers licence requirements? Don’t be silly.
I was on Phu Quoc island for nearly a week and I desperately wanted to explore the lesser known beaches and getting a scooter was the best way of doing this. Furthermore, I’ve never driven a scooter in my life, so what better place to learn than on an island with little traffic?
The theory of it makes sense: get on, put a helmet on (I’ve got a massive skull so finding a helmet that fits is a challenge in itself… Seems like the Vietnamese only make helmets to fit 4 year olds), point the bike in the right direction and hit go. Simple.
And it really is. I encountered 2 issues though:
- Steering: ok, it’s a pretty big thing not to get right unless you plan on going in a straight line. You’ve got to steer with your body as much as with your arms, but after a few kilometers, it feels natural. In the interests of full disclosure, I did almost have an encounter with a road sign. But it was the road signs fault, not mine.
- Other scooters: there is no order here- guys will come flying out of driveways without checking if the coast is clear. It’s madness. Hooting is big business- it seems that if you’re the first to hoot, you have right of way. How ridiculous is that? Some guys just drive around all day randomly hooting to ensure an uninterrupted journey!
All in all, I’m glad I did it, but I can safely say I won’t be riding one of these things in any major town or city- strictly reserved for island life!
Mom, you can stop breathing into a brown paper bag now.
As for the island itself, I was there during the end of the rainy season, which was fine, there was only one day of solid rain which was a good excuse to do nothing considering I forgot suncream the previous day and roasted myself into oblivion.
I met some cool people, one of which is a chap from Venezuela, Oscar, who is a great chef in Paris. He cooked a winning meal the one night. It was quite special as the hostel we were staying in was as basic as you get, but we were eating 5 star cuisine – it was excellent!
If you’re looking for an island getaway in Vietnam, Phu Quoc is certainly a place to consider. There isn’t all that much to do which is perfect if you want to lie low for a few days and enjoy the beach. Just pay attention to the seasons – I wouldn’t recommend this island in the peak of the rainy season!