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Downtime in Con Dao

November 8, 2010

Until I moved to Vietnam, I never knew geckos made so much noise. They sound sort of like a frogs, but lower pitched and less rhythmic.



Right now I’m on Con Son Island listening to the waves and the geckos and drinking some wine. Jonathan is reading and we just finished a pomelo (the green, grapefruit-ish citrus fruit that takes a machete to get into.)

On a fruit side note – I wonder if Americans eat the fruits they eat because they are easy to eat. I have never put forth so much effort eating as I have here. Everything has tons of seeds, thick layers of skin, or there just isn’t a lot of flesh on it. Eating fruit here takes more work than we lazy Americans are used to.

As we arrived at the airport this morning, one of our pilot friends (who was supposed to be operating the flight to Con Dao) called to let us know the flight had cancelled. Bad news for our company, but fortunately they put us on a different flight and I braved a journey down here on the ATR.

The Con Dao Archipelago is due south of Saigon. It’s a 30-minute flight in a jet, or 40 minutes in the ATR. It was fascinating seeing the land change from green with brown roads and rivers to brown water with strips of green and dots of houses as the Mekong Delta opened up. In spite of the clouds, we could see where the rivers emptied into the South China Sea. The water was red like Georgia clay until we were pretty far off the coast, and then it was dark teal dotted with waves and fishing boats.

There are fifteen islands in this archipelago, Con Son Island being the most populated (and as far as I know the only one with an airport.) The island has several large mountains and the runway fits neatly in between two beaches and two mountains on the north tip of the island. I would love to see the approach from the front of the plane or from the beach.

As far as we can tell, there isn’t much on this island. In the day of the French there were ten or eleven prisons and a lot of torture took place here. Jonathan has agreed to save the prison tours for another visit. I have seen enough shackled mannequins to last me for the next year. We are staying at the only hotel with a beach in front of it, and there’s a good chance we are two of the seven guests. There are two or three other hotels, a restaurant, and a market in the morning. Tourism hasn’t hit this island yet.



After clearing up the confusion (involving conversations with at least five people who had no idea what we were saying – via phone and in person) over whether we had reserved a room at Con Dao Resort or Con Dao Resort on Vung Tau Street (otherwise Saigon Con Dao Resort – not Con Dao Seatravel Resort,) we sat on the patio for lunch. The whole time we ate we admired the blue sky, the islands in the distance, and felt the beckoning warmth of the beach. As soon as we changed into our swimming suits the sky opened up.

Being in a place where no one knows you and everyone already thinks you’re a crazy tourist enables you to do whatever you want. So while everyone else was gathering the chair cushions and running inside, we went swimming anyway. Sometimes we couldn’t look at each other because of the enormous raindrops pelting our eyes, but it was wonderful. The water is warm, the sand is soft, and if you are quiet all you hear is raindrops on the water and waves breaking on the shore.

When the rain slowed down we walked up and down the beach, admiring God’s creation in sea shell form, checking out a junked junk, and avoiding rubbish. The sky never completely cleared up so we divided our time between the gray sand and the warm water until we were too pruney and had to go inside.

Times like this make me think that I am, of all people, most blessed.



Tomorrow we will probably rent a motorbike and explore the island. I need to learn to drive one, and it seems to be the best way to get around.

Currently reading: Touch the Top of the World by Erik Weihenmayer

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Tanya permalink
    November 8, 2010 14:41

    I am so glad you guys got away for a day and the place looks amazing. And that you didn’t have to sleep on the street 🙂

  2. Mary Holby permalink
    November 8, 2010 17:51

    Ahhhh. Nice.
    BTW I heard Erik speak for two hours to a hushed audience. No one of the thousands present got up. He was fascinating and motivating. I liked his dog too.

  3. November 9, 2010 02:25

    Is that some kind of Mad Max post apocalyptic hermit crab going on there?

  4. Charity permalink
    November 11, 2010 13:48

    Looks like a wonderfully secluded place… very nice! And I’m with Christine on that pic… it kinda creeps me out cause I can’t figure out what they are…

  5. November 12, 2010 02:59

    I’m not sure what those creatures were. I initially thought they were some sort of bivalve until I saw the creepy claw jut out every few seconds. I did find a dead hermit crab with a shell the size of my fist. Crazy things in these parts…


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