Con Dao Island

I haven’t posted anything in a while – very sorry. Has been a very busy end to 2017 and a busy start in 2018. I have also changed jobs in that time which was a little intense. The good news, and also a cause to the lack of posts is that Vanessa and I had a good long trip to Vietnam (again). So there should be plenty of new material coming up. As we are also on the brink of spring, I hope to grab some nice spring shots too soon.

The beach in front of our resort. 5D Mark III and 24mm 1.4 lens.

So I have decided to break down our trip is sections, and this part is about Con Dao. These are remote islands about an hours flight south of Saigon. The islands are known for their prisons during the Vietnam War, which is a bit depressing. However, they are also home to Vietnam’s best beaches, nice wilderness, and six senses resort.

We took a flight from Saigon with Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO). It was a windy landing and one to remember, but the airline is fine and ATRs are always bumpy. We stayed at a Vietnamese 3 start resort just out of town. Con Dao Resort is walking distance from the main town. But the best way to get around is by motorbike. We rented a bike for a couple of days.

VASCO flies regular flights from Saigon to Con Dao with ATR-72s. 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 lens.

The islands are pretty quiet, and the people are surprisingly laid back for the Vietnamese. There are not that many roads, and not that much to see, but the place is very relaxing. We checked out the local temples, beaches and the main town the first day.

Roads are pretty quiet on the island. 5D Mark III with 85mm 1.2L II lens.

Local shrine was very picturesque. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art lens

The markets in Con Dao are well worth a visit. 5D Mark III with 85mm 1.2L II lens.

The beach just in front of the airport is also quite nice. Its also a good place to see incoming flights which go right overhead. Taken with a 5D Mark III and 12mm 2.8 fisheye lens.

The second day we looked at a lot of the prisons from the war period. Some were built by the French for political prisoners, and some were later built by the Americans. All offer horrific conditions. It was hard to understand why such measures were needed, but good to see them.

Walking above the cells in the French built prison. An incredible place which asks many questions. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art lens.

To prevent the prisoners from climbing up the walls and escaping, the guards would break arms and legs. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art lens.

The American prison was obviously made on a tight budget with no concern for human life. The clammy, dark, and cramped interior is just a disgusting place to be. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 lens.

The next day we rode up to the start of the national park. You need a special permit to enter the park, but it’s easy to get at the park office. We then took a hike to the other side of the island. On the way we traveled through dense jungle, and encountered a bit of wild life including monkeys. Finally we made it to a very remote little beach. It was quite rocky, but very nice in general. There are coral reefs just off shore.

One of the locals, Con Dao National Park. 5D Mark III with 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II lens.

Somewhere in the national park. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 lens. Polariser.

An interesting fellow, a couple of kilometers from the water. 5D Mark III with 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II lens.

Nice to be off the beaten track. It did not look like there were many visitors to the park. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art lens.

The rest of the time, we just hang around town. There are some nice cafes and restaurants. I would recommend Con Dao to anyone visiting Vietnam. It’s a welcome change from the usual rush. I think it has Vietnam’s best beaches, and easy access to nature. There is still not too many tourists there, and the remote parts are very authentic.

Same old fantastic Vietnamese food. 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 Art lens.

Sitting on the sidewalk, waiting for our dinner. 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 lens.

The mandatory beach photos! Con Dao. 5D Mark III with 85mm 1.2L II lens.

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