Le Van Tam showed a piece of broken glass and his bleeding foot to other tourists at Dinh Cau Beach.
He said it was not the first time he was cut like that.
Dinh Cau is a popular tourist attraction in Phu Quoc with very few hotels and resorts. But don't expect to see unspoiled nature here: the place looks like an open landfill as local restaurants let diners dump plastic bags, bottles and cans right on the beach.
Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that the southern island, which emerged as a new holiday destination several years ago, is now notorious for its trash problem. Local authorities have failed to deal with the issue, leaving many tourists and locals frustrated.
Tuong, a local, said he and other islanders would travel a little further to more pristine, cleaner beaches, but most of foreign tourists are stuck with the more popular, dirty beaches.
Many tourists and resorts have tried to pick up some of the trash themselves, but their efforts have failed to end the crisis.
Nguyen Quoc Hung, a manager at a four-star beachfront resort on the island, said his employees have to go out and collect 20 to 30 sacks of garbage every morning.
Someone then has to guard the beach all day to pick up trash, Hung said.
Nguyen Van Ngoc, head of Phu Quoc Public Works Management Board, told Tuoi Tre that the amount of waste discharged on the island has surged from 50 metric tons a day in 2010 to 190 tons at present.
He claimed that his unit can only collect 180 tons.
Ngoc said the island has two dump sites and both are almost full.
But Ngoc also said locals should not be blamed for the trash problem.
Due to its location, Phu Quoc often received trash washed to the shore from thousands of fishing boats in the Gulf of Thailand, he said.
Locals said even before there was an influx of tourists, they had seen a lot of trash in the waters. Most of cans and bottles came from Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia, they said.
Workers pick up trash from the Duong Dong River in Phu Quoc. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre
River or sewer?
There’s no waste treatment plant for the whole island. Many people now dump their trash at the old Phu Quoc Airport or into the Duong Dong River, which is the main water source on the island.
The river receives all the garbage and sewage from a big local market.
Around 1,000 houses and more than 160 restaurants, shops and fish sauce plants are also using the river as an open sewer, according to the report.
Tourists just have to hold their breath walking by the river while locals just have to learn to live with the smell.
On top of that, many construction projects to serve tourism purpose have added air pollution to the island.