The High-speed Boat to Phu Quoc

Ham Ninh Travel Blog

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Loading the slow boat
 

The Thien Long Hotel manager made a morning call to his English-speaking daughter who was up in Ho Chi Minh City. She confirmed my suspicions of the people in the park lying to me yesterday about the fast boat to Phu Quoc leaving from a different port or being cancelled altogether. Her father handed me a motorbike helmet and brought me to the Cashin High Speed Boat office on Tran Hua Street. Though the full fare, 190,000,was marked on my ticket, I only paid 152,000 Ðong (about US$8.80) for the one-way passage. He then showed me the dock where the boat would board - the same dock that the driver who brought me into Vietnam had showed me yesterday. We returned to the hotel where I still had plenty of time for a Lipton tea and baguette breakfast.

Interior of fast boat

 

The manager and his family gave handshakes and hugs when I left the hotel at 7:30 to walk along the waterfront. About a dozen foreigners lingered around the dock area clutching bulky backpacks, suitcases, and wheelie bags. Our sleek and narrow fast boat looked equally out of time and place moored against the boxy wooden slow boat which was destined for the same island and being loaded with bundles of freight and baggage. Its passenger's motorbikes were cautiously inched onboard along a sagging gray plank then shifted forward to a main deck cargo area. One by one, we walked the plank ourselves, crossed the creaking hull of the old boat, then balanced another beam to board our own modern craft.

 

The High Speed Boat departed Ha Tien for its daily 8:00 a.

Inbound fishing boat
m. run to Phu Quoc Island right on time. The glossy white boat was similar to those operated in Cambodia on the Koh Kong to Sihanoukville and the Phnom Penh to Siem Reap routes, except much cleaner and its crew more professional. Our uniformed captain had used just one quick and courteous blast of the ship's horn to signal final call for boarding. The Vietnamese boat also had the feel of being more seaworthy with quieter, smoother engines and fewer shuddering vibrations than those in Cambodia.

 

 Less than half of the 104 reclining airliner-type seats were occupied. My assigned seat - 53 - had been taken by the baggage of a Scandinavian couple so I took 54, also an aisle seat. The two next to me remained vacant so I was able to slide over to the window once in awhile to view passing islands or inbound fishing boats. A steward handed out bottles of water, packets of wet-towel wipes, and black plastic barf bags. Fortunately, no one needed the latter since the ride was rather smooth with just a gentle rock from side to side on slightly windy seas. Unfortunately, like in Cambodia, it was not permitted to ride on top of the boat. It took an hour and a half to reach Phu Quoc. The island is sort of tear-drop shaped, narrowing to the south and we docked at Ham Ninh, roughly in the center of the island's western coast.

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Loading the slow boat
Loading the slow boat
Interior of fast boat
Interior of fast boat
Inbound fishing boat
Inbound fishing boat
Passing the Ha Tien main market
Passing the Ha Tien main market
Ham Ninh
photo by: rotorhead85