First There was SuperFerry, Then Came Super Dong

phu quoc

If you’re looking to take the ferry to Phu Quoc Island, some 125 kilometres off the south coast of Vietnam look no further. Super Dong is at your service. For rates and scheduling don’t google it, though. You’ll get a thousand and one websites that have nothing to do with boats. Instead, find someone who can translate Vietnamese and do a proper search at

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Long Beach, where most of the gringo action occurs on Phu Quoc, is an uninspiring stretch of sand. The waters are warm and there’s a nice bit of wave action, but visibility is near zero. We decided to make the best of it by keeping our heads above the surface, when suddenly I felt a stabbing sensation on the bottom of my foot. It happened to me four or five times before Ellen got nailed

She lifted her foot up and there were four black and white striped needles sticking out of her foot. I pulled them out and showed them to the staff at the Paris Beach Resort. They looked at us all serious-like and started mumbling the word, nhum. We both began to envision convulsions, with thick milkshake-like foam coming from our mouths. Then Ronnie, the Australian, showed up and told us nhums were just sea urchins. Painful, but not deadly. Phu Quoc gets a thumbs down rating from us. Painful nhums and poor visibility, trumped warm and wavy.

Ellen and I hadn’t planned on going to Phu Quoc. We just started busing our way south, into the scenic Mekong delta and eventually came across Super Dong. To get to Rach Gia, Super Dong’s departure point at the base of the delta, it’s about six hours overland. Add two-and-half hours aboard Super Dong and you’ve killed the better part of a day. Total cost, about $25.00. We chose to fly back to Saigon with Air Mekong. For fifty bucks we got to fly on a Canadian built jet plane, and during the thirty-five minute flight they even managed to feed us.

They make a particular type called weasel or civet coffee. The coffee producers have the civets eat the beans, then I guess, follow them around field and forest until they make toilet. When the smelly beans are eventually collected, they’re given a good scrubbing, then they are dried in the sun and later given a light roasting. It is said that weasel coffee has a good nose and and is less bitter than your regular, off the shelf brands. Who da thunk it?

They also do another, untrue to the toilet, type. This one is simulated, whereby they apply synthetic enzymes to the production. This creates an effect similar to the old fashioned in-one-end-out the-other method.

Ellen and I are back in Saigon now. Yesterday we went on a weasel coffee search. We found that the real thing is available at $750.00 for a 250 gram bag. The collectors aren’t able to gather more than 50 kilograms of the poo beans per year, hence the hefty price tag. We did buy a bag of the ersatz one and I can hardly wait to try a cup. I know it’s not real, but I’d still like to give it another good wash first. I’m not sure how to go about that though, it’s already been ground.