We embarked on a high-speed boat of the Van Don-Co To route at 4pm to visit Van Don Island. It was the fourth and also the last boat trip of the day, but the wharf was still crowded with people wanting to go to Co To Island District. Huong, owner of the Manh Quang high-speed boat enterprise, who received us at the port, said: “Hurry up, the boat is arriving. For two months now I have doubled the boats’ shifts each day, but all boats are still full of passengers.”
When the boat began leaving the port, each passenger was provided with a flyer titled “Necessary information about Co To travel in 2012” by the boat owner. The information includes prices of food and room rates, even prices of each “Xe om” (motorbike taxi) ride in Co To Island District. While sitting on board, leaving the hot and stuffy atmosphere of the city I enjoyed the vast space of sea. After one hour and a half, the boat reached Co To Island.
After having a good sleep, the next morning Nguyen Duc Thanh, Party Secretary and Chairman of Co To Islands District led me to visit the island. He said to me: “I will work as a tourist guide for you on the first day to make you familiar with the area. The following days you will go alone. Only making your own way around the island can you discover and enjoy the fascinating beauty of the island. You should start at 5am to see the first sunlight over the island.” He showed me the My Bridge which is the highest point on the island. From this place people can enjoy a spectacular view and the first sunlight of the day.
Thanh led me to visit beautiful places, including Van Chay Beach where people watch waves running to the shore, Hong Vam Beach with smooth white sand which still retains a natural beauty, the Pheralit stone ground with traces showing the natural tectonics, and the romantic road running along the coast for lovers. The lighthouse is a special place that every visitor who goes to Co To can not miss because from this place they can see the entire island.
For the next few days, following Thanh’s advice, I made my own tour of the island. I was told that since the beginning of 2011, the Home Stay Project has been implemented. It is considered a unique initiative on tourist activities on the island and has yielded good results. Under this project, tourists stay at the houses of the islanders to experience their life. Nguyen Duc Thanh is credited with creating this friendly and hospitable tourist environment.
Co To Beach was more charming at night. On the last day of my trip, I strolled along the beach until 3am. When returning to the guest house I lost the way. I saw that all of the houses were open. A motorbike passed by and I asked the driver to show me the way. Although it was late, he took me on his motorbike to the guest house.
During my stay on Co To Island, I was fascinated by its beautiful landscape. But, the friendliness and sincerity of the local people impressed me most. Surely, anyone who visits Co To Island once will want to return.