Day 23 - Ha Long BayMarch 3, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C
After the laundry cliffhanger yesterday just to assure you we got most of the laundry back minus 4 pairs of Matt's socks so we can survive the next few days.
We left the hostel early doors and got picked up by a bus to take us to Ha Long bay, a Unesco world heritage site about 4 hours away from Hanoi which is basically hundreds of tall rock formations/islands in the sea. It's very beautiful and we'll spend most of the next 3 days in this area. Our guide is named Tiger. He's been doing Ha Long tours for 10 years and has got his patter nailed, though he does deliver at about 100 words per second so I only caught about 20% of the Vietnamese history and culture lesson he gave us on the drive up here. There's 18 of us in the group and I feel sorry for the non-native English speakers as they must have got 5% if they were lucky.
For night number 1 we're staying on a boat. It's really nice, and has an astroturfed sun deck which reminds me of my fake grass garden. Though it's not actually very warm up here (makes it even more like home I suppose). We had a huge and delicious lunch when we got on board, squid, shrimp, salads (i.e. All the things the travel nurse told me we shouldn't eat abroad - though don't worry mum, I'm writing this 24 hours later and I'm still alive). We needed a big lunch as next we went kayaking around some of the islands. Those of you who know me well might know I'm pretty terrified of being underwater, of more accurately being thrown under large expanses of outdoor water - I can cope with the pool at Center Parcs - so combine that with Matt and I being rubbish at anything involving teamwork and steering and I spent the first 20 minutes panicking every time a small wave hit us. We got into the groove though once I convinced myself we might not actually tip up and then it was fun. The best part was seeing monkeys on the cliffs right near our boat, though momentary panic that one might jump on to the boat and push me out. All normal and rational fears.
We got back on the boat and sailed to Surprising Cave. There's typically 600 boats in Ha Long Bay at any one time, of which 400 are day trippers. As our tour guide is experienced in this neck of the woods he timed it so we went not long before closing meaning we got the caves almost to ourselves. They're really impressive, and someone who'd had too much beer has named most of the stalactites and stalagmites after what they look like, e.g. chicken laying an egg, happy Buddha smiling at a lady. With a bit of squinting I kind of got it but it was a bit magic eye.
Back on the boat for happy hour - though Mr Hung the bar man made it happy hour pretty much every hour we were on the boat so lots of cocktails (with generous spirit measures) were consumed over the course of the evening. We were all starving by this point so it was lucky it was spring roll making time. I like this tour company, they seem to read my hungry mind with when to produce snacks. Needless to say our spring rolls were more like burritos but still tasty. Dinner wasn't too far behind - lots more sea food. Tiger showed us magic tricks and brain teasers after dinner, my years of being a geeky brain teaser obsessed child paid off cause I solved one and won a beer. I knew they weren't wasted years!
What was a waste of time though was we had a go at squid fishing. In hindsight I think it was a task given to us to keep us occupied in the evening as none of us caught anything after an hour of trying. You chucked a green lure and hook over board then just pulled it up and down to try and attract them. Not a nibble. We gave up in the end and went to sleep in our cabin ready for day 2 tomorrow.Read more