Day dawned bright and sunny, a perfect one for motoring down the coast at leisure, perhaps going for a dip, perhaps stopping for a beer. Stopping also, albeit straying slightly off the tourist agenda, at the dog farm. Not my terms but the local one, and the place to go and see Phu Quoc’s extremely rare dogs, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback.
I did know of the breed, but hadn’t made the connection with the island where I was currently staying. The first, and nearly all subsequent, dogs I saw had the trademark ridge. As a Thai Ridgeback owner there was no decision, a visit was compulsory. So, I grabbed a map, got directions from reception and hired a motorbike, one of the 125cc machines you see throughout SE Asia and Paris. I started her up, and headed down the narrow lane leading to the main road.
A word about the bike. Something had told me it was sure to be the case, but my machine stood out forlornly in a crowd of sparkling new ones. It had clearly seen better days, days, for example, when it had been cleaned, but now it bore the encrustations and scratches of unloved hire machines, and the kilometrage to prove it. The speedometer didn’t work, and the ignition looked like it had been hacked by many a locksmith. The lady at reception had advised not exceeding 60kph, but, looking at the bike, I doubted whether this was an option. Pausing only to fill the tank at the petrol station opposite, I set off..
I had gone maybe 200 metres when it began to rain, that sudden rain that turns the sky from clouds to torrents of water. It was the fag end of the monsoon, so I headed to the shelter an awning a couple metres away to wait for the end of the downpour. An hour later, I was still there reflecting on whether it would have been a good idea to check the weather forecast before investing 150000 dong in the moto. Happily the rain began to lighten, to the point when I’d get wet going back to the hotel, but not soaked. I drove gingerly back through the raging torrent that had been the road to the hotel and lunch.
I found the dog sanctuary, as it was styled, that afternoon, but not before a couple of false starts. There is a sign, but I only noticed it on the second time around. That was fortunate, because otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered the waterfall and so missed out on one of the most bizarre spots I’ve ever visited. The pictures tell the story, so I’ll let them do just that.
I’m not sure what to make of the dog sanctuary. The people there seemed nice enough, though they knew only a handful of English. There were signs of the dog zoo type thing, with a coffee house/refreshment centre, but it didn’t have the air of much frequentation. The dogs are kept in large enclosures, and, at least when I was there, a couple of staff were playing with the puppies. The puppies could be bought, although it was up to the buyer to organise all the shots and paperwork, not to mention, in the case of the EU, a 3 month stay in Vietnam before the dogs would be eligible to travel. Lovely dog, the ridgeback.
There’s still a “but” nagging away at the back of my mind, regarding the sanctuary.