An Unexpected Stop in Ha Tien
Ha Tien, Vietnam
When traveling anywhere at all, you can make an incredibly detailed itinerary, plan everything perfectly, and then in at moments notice, it all goes to shit from some minor speed bump. When this happens, feelings are pretty much the same as the five stages of grief – At first you go into denial, then you’re angry and frustrated, you try for some bargaining, sink into depression (nothing serious, hopefully), and then finally accept that shit happens. Hopefully you can laugh at it later on.
I wanted to spend my last few days of my six week trip sitting stationary on a beach, reading a book I promised myself I’d finish as well as most likely getting nice and day-drunk off drinks with tiny umbrellas in them. Since my flight back to the states was out of Ho Chi Minh, Phu Quoc Island made sense as my last stop being close to Kep/Kampot because flights from Phu Quoc to HCMC were dirt-cheap at the time. Despite a very smooth and quick border-crossing from Cambodia, we were abruptly ushered into a new truck by a clearly agitated guide saying, “Hurry, hurry! Ferry leaving!”
As we uneasily sped across the bridge over the Giang Thanh River in Ha Tien, we watched the large white ferry to Phu Quoc drift right under us; The last ferry of the day. It was like something out of a movie.
After some anger and frustration directed at the guide, he offered to take us to his “friend’s” hotel, making me wonder if we really did “miss” the ferry. My bitterness and skepticism at the time wouldn’t let me relinquish to a even the possibility of a potential scam and stay there. Plus, I was supposed to be getting day-drunk on a beach so the least I could do was try to find a pool to chill next to.
I got checked into a beautiful (and dirt-cheap) hotel room and as I was overlooking the river and the small limestone mountain of To Chau, that’s when I hit finally hit Stage 5: Acceptance. I settled in and spent a few hours at the pool before wandering town… I was pleasantly surprised. There was a really charming riverside, lively market, and the entire town had a laid-back atmosphere to it with its crumbling colonial villas. There didn’t seem to be a ton to do so after a few laps around the main part of town and riverfront, I grabbed a 6-pack of Tiger beer and went up to the roof the hotel, the tallest building in town.
I’m now at the laughing stage about my stay in Ha Tien and almost kind of look at it as a blessing in disguise…