Last Thursday and Friday I played a little hooky and took off to visit Phu Quoc, an island off Vietnam's Southern coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Phu Quoc is an undeveloped island, home to about 75,000 people and the largest pepper exporter in Vietnam (who knew?). There's also a thriving pearl cultivation industry there.
Most of the roads on the island are dirt and the island natives primarily work in agriculture and fishing. I stayed at the Tropicana Resort on the island's west side. It made for beautful sunsets of the ocean, viewed from Tropicana's restaurant patio while sipping a pina colada. Marvelous.
Walking along the beach during the first day I encountered this boy and his friends. They were hunting some kind of small crab that burrowed into the sand at the water's edge. One boy would hold a fine mesh net, while the other two boys would shovel sand into the net as quickly as possible. Then they would strain the sand and water out of the net to isolate the crabs. The bucket this boy is holding is about half-full of writhing little buggers. We walked together for a while, and it was fun to watch the boys spot some telltale crab signs in the sand and run off excitedly to ply their trade. Kids are kids everywhere.
No review of Phu Quoc would be complete without a mention of its spectacular seafood. One day I rented a motorbike and toured the island. I stopped in a fishing village on the east side and picked a restaurant at random on the water. When I ordered shrimp I was confused when the waitress motioned for me to go towards the kitchen. It soon became clear that I was to pick out my lunch! I chose a fine selection of rather active shrimp. The matron of the establishment plucked them out of the tank, weighed them, and in 10 short minutes they were sitting at my table ready to eat. I've never seen shrimp so big. They were delicious.
Check out this video where I meet the meat:
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