Puberty is awkward. Some parts of you grow at an alarming rate, while others stay stuck in the past. Of course once everything catches up you will be a beautiful butterfly, but until then you have years of strangely proportioned growth.
The Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc is smack-bang in the middle of a pubescent onslaught. Developers and investors are sprinting before they can walk, (or even stand up) and are slowly turning this once humble, dirt-road island into a westernised, resort-infested, commercial jungle – complete with its very own Disneyland.
Although acres of dirt exist where new resorts and shopping complexes will eventually be, they’ve actually already finished the Disneyland bit.
Welcome to Vinpearl Land. Water park/amusement park/aquarium complete with its own princess castle. It’s all a part of the Vinpearl five-star resort, which features a 27-hole golf course.
This impressively daunting entertainment wonderland seems out of place on the predominantly simple, working-class chunk of land it sits upon. All the brainchild of a Vietnamese billionaire, it’s amazing to see what sheer wealth can do to a few acres of land.
Here’s the thing.
The park is practically empty.
Besides you, your mates, the staff who operate everything, and possibly 30 other people who have also discovered this place, you have a super-park to yourself.
My two friends and I were alone on massive, state of the art rides that were designed for 20 or 30 people. Until this place, I had never gone on a ride and just spoke out from my seat “lets go again!” for the operator to send us into the air once more.
We did every good slide in the water park about three or four times. We sat in the bumper cars for about an hour just driving around giving each other whiplash. We felt like celebrities who had rented the whole park to themselves to keep the plebs out.
I actually found it pretty creepy. It felt abandoned, empty, and soulless. Moving between rides without the sound of others laughing or yelling made for this strange and airy vibe. The castle doubled as a lonely bar that felt like the place you’d find yourself if your ex-wife just got custody of the kids.
Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing not waiting a second for the rides, and going on them a bunch of times. We had a great day, it just took me a while to work out that no matter how good the facilities of a place are, it’s the people that give it soul. Three confused travellers and a handful of others were not enough. We just pondered how much money they were losing every hour to keep the place going.
I would still recommend this experience if you can make it. In a few years I’m sure the waves of families will fill the resorts and cause the chaos expected at flash amusement parks. Until then enjoy the awkward, pubescent stage of this island and have a day at Disneyland to yourself.