• 26 . 03 . 11
  • Take one sea, roughly chopped and add a small pinch of hot ferry. Throw in your pre-cooked monkey and shake vigorously. Leave for 2 hours, after which time your nausea will have risen nicely. Serve while green.

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Sea Green

The boat ride from Phu Quoc back to the Vietnamese mainland has the unique distinction of bringing me the closest I have ever been to throwing up without actually needing a plastic bag. The journey was billed as a relatively calm voyage on a hydrofoil that cut through the ocean waves like a knife. It was more like repeatedly stabbing a paving slab with a tin spoon.

We’ve travelled by water many times already on this trip, but this one was particularly bad. It may have been the semi-sunstroke acquired on yet another deceptively hot and overcast Vietnamese day yesterday, but it was more likely sitting in a hot ferry on a seat facing sideways with intermittent air conditioning. Buffeted by huge waves and a wash that came up to the windows, we regularly lost our seat as we bounced over the peaks and bumped into the troughs. Looking back from the front of the vessel where we were precariously perched, the view was like watching 90 souls clattering around an old wooden rollercoaster, on a ride designed for 75. (Was there ever any doubt it would be over-capacity?)

In terms of nausea, I had thought nothing was worse than being sea-sick and vomiting, but I was wrong. Sea-sickness where a period of unexpected calm every few minutes brings you back from the brink ensures you continue to feel clammy, with a mouth like bile, without the sweet and sour relief of evacuating your stomach. Disaster was only averted when I was able to swap seats with Emily Benjamin, who owing to a Vietnamese woman taking one of our allocated seats, was sitting on the Captain’s bench facing forward. The sight of the horizon and the warning before precipitous drops steadied my stomach enough that I was able to make the rest of the journey with nothing more uncomfortable than a sweat-sodden t-shirt.

After one false dawn where we sighted land and then continued forlornly past it, we arrived on dry land in Ha Tien just shy of two hours after departure. The border crossing into Cambodia follows and then a short bus ride to Kep, a small French colonial beach side town, where we can sit and watch the water, without angering it.

The next day we go to Rabbit Island. Mode of transport – fishing boat. I wonder if we can find a bus to take us there instead?

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