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Phu Quoc island – A paradise of Vietnam tourism

Although I had heard much about the distinctive beauty of Phu Quoc, I was really amazed at its nature and specialities throughout my recent vacation to the largest island in Viet Nam Travel.

The tear-shaped island is a part of Kien Giang Province, that is far 45km from Ha Tien and 120km from Rach Gia. It spread 50km from north to south and 25km from east to west at its widest.

Visited Ko Samui in Thailand, I understood why my friends often said Phu Quoc was still more natural and untouched than in Thai. I spent all the time I might swimming within the immense turquoise blue ocean and enjoying the daylight on the yellow sand beach.

Staying within the heart of Duong Dong city, situated within the west of the island, I did not pass over any of the spectacular sunsets. Yet the most interesting part of my journey was to the east and west of the island, that contains several surprises beyond the bazalt roads full of the fragrance of untamed herbs.

Pearl island

Pearl farms are with attractions. Guests are shown each aspect of oyster breeding, as well as the process by that mother-of-pearl mud is coated by a  special substance within the oyster to create pearls. A guide will demonstrate a way to cut open an oyster to extract a pearl. The farm showrooms show numerous sorts of pearls, as well as those in white, ivory, yellow, black and even red, likewise as in all shapes like circular, water drop, heart-shaped, square, triangle and lozenge.

Naturally made pearls are far more valuable than man-made ones, however their shapes remain rather rough. Man-made pearls are usually stunning as they are formed higher, are more shiny and finer in color, my native guide explained.

However, he said that solely twenty per cent of pearls sold in retailers and showrooms on the island were native to the island, most brought from other localities in  the country or imported from China.

"Phu Quoc pearls are distinguished by their color and shine," he said, "Natural pearls will heal scratches on the surface themselves. A simple way to recognise real pearls is by scratching them against one another. There mustn't be any scratches as a result, just some mother-of-pearl mud."

Japanese pearl expert Horikiri Seiji has judged Phu Quoc's pearl quality "as smart as those from famous pearl manufacturing countries within the world". Explaining the reason for such quality, my guide told me that the crystal clear waters surrounding the island offers favourable living conditions for shelled  molluscs like oysters and snails, several of which may turn out stunning pearls. this is often why the island has been nicknamed "pearl island", he said.

Special dog breed

Another speciality of the island is its special breed of dog, well-known for its cleverness and strength in the wild. The breed is distinguished by a ridge of hair that runs along the back in the other direction to the rest of the coat.

I stopped at a Phu Quoc ridge back dog breeding farm, where I used to be lucky to satisfy and chat to the owner, Ngo Quang. His massive garden is split into many areas bordered by a 2m-high steel fence separating expectant mothers and puppies from alternative feminine and male dogs. Quang, who ships his dogs to varied elements of the country and even abroad, said this specific breed might run faster than others, and are loyal, clever and able to obey orders. He also showed me skinny layers of skin, very like webs, between the dogs' toes, that facilitate their extraordinary swimming ability. I was told the male dogs usually omit the fence at night to wander around, however forever come at dawn.

"Although dogs are tamed for quite a while already, locals like those born in caves, believing their wild natures offer them strength," Quang said.

However, he added that the dogs created friends simply, that isn't the most effective of qualities in a very guardian. Another disadvantage relates to mix breeding, that makes the dogs at risk of intestinal bacteria, leading to several deaths. "Farms like mine target to conserve the pure Phu Quoc breed," Quang said, "The dogs I sell never succumb to mix blood issues."

Meeting point

Dinh Cau Night Market, situated in the centre of town and boasting around a hundred food and sourvenir shops, attracts a mess of holiday makers from right across the island. Delicious smells create each domestic and foreign mouths water. Fresh seafood on charcoal stoves, bowls of vermicelli in alluring soup, boiled snails, squid and shrimps served with Phu Quoc's renowned fish sauce remain unforgettable recollections to me. Cheap price is another alluring feature of the market.

When leaving Phu Quoc, the salty smell of nuoc mam (fish sauce) and black pepper farms [where locals utilize waste matter from fish sauce production to enrich the soil] perceived to permeate the island, instilling in me a strong impression of its land and ocean.

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