I’ve had to save writing this blog for a couple of weeks as the thought of passion fruit mojitos still stirs something uncomfortable deep inside me.
We have been improving our bargaining skills throughout the trip, in India we could get everyone down to at least half price. It was inevitable that our new found skills would disappear one day and that day arrived with us in Hanoi. We woke up at 7am to the delightful sound of construction work after arriving at 1am following 18 hours of travel between Myanmar and Vietnam (it may be cheaper to stop in Bangkok but you may end up spending the difference on booze to pass the time).
Pinion enjoying the airport delights:
Needless to say we weren’t quite bright eyed and bushy tailed that morning. The smooth sales lady at our hostel recognised our weary travel eyes and pounced. She offered us free drinks, made promises of a different room higher up away from construction and fed us juicy mangos and lychees. I know, she sounds like a right bitch. Without us even realising we had signed up for a 2 day 1 night tour of Halong Bay. The day in Hanoi passed in a bit of a blur, I think Pinion dragged me to some museums, i grumbled a lot.
Pinion likes interactive museums:
The next morning we were picked up and whisked out of the city with Ken our guide offering up a seemingly never ending supply of slightly sexist jokes in broken English. The laughs tailed off towards the end of the 4 hours journey but Ken never faltered! Ken made us and a few others join a different group at the port, we originally thought this was due to us not eating seafood but considering most of the food was in fact seafood I think it may have been due to a lack of laughing at his jokes. We ended up with a great group, a few twentysomethings from Europe, 2 older Korean couples and a Vietnamese couple who disappeared quickly after dinner to what the barman later described as the honeymoon suite.
Halong bay is beautiful but it is so touristy. The tour took us the bear minimum distance into the area and it would have been great to explore it a bit further. We did get to visit one cave, it was pretty massive and so were the crowds wandering through it. It was also lit up in really bright colourful lights, I enjoyed it but I think I might have a thing for caves.
The boat stopped for the night near to Cat Ba island. We went swimming in the very murky but warm water. I was doing okay until I felt something against my legs and freaked out. After a shower and some dinner (well a massive plate of rice), it was time for the drinking to begin. We had free wine, free beer and then I invested in some passion fruit mojitos. These were amazing on the night but rejected me the next day.
The early morning wake up call (around 6:30) and kayaking did not lead me to feel any better. The tipping point that morning was probably the attempt at being converted by the Evangelical Korean lady. No good conversation has ever started with the question ‘do you know Jesus?’ I spent the rest of the morning in the toilet regretting those fruity cocktails and not finding him.
We did have fun on our trip despite paying more than most people on board. It would be possible to organise something yourself or if you do fancy a tour then make sure you bargain that price right down. We paid US$85 each whilst one girl got the same trip for $60.