Up again nice and early but this time with our bags packed and ready to move on. We didn’t really bother to say bye to the staff as we will stay here on last night before we fly home. So no goodbyes yet.
To be very honest with you, my stomach was a little apprehensive about the 4 hour bus ride following yesterday but we made sure to sit in the middle of the minibus and I was in a single seat by the window so felt nice and spacey. And an air vent was right above my head too. It has been way hotter today and much sunnier which is nice but I’m sure pretty dangerous. All in all the roads we took were way better and I didn’t feel sick once, slept on and off.
Ha Long is actually quite a pretty city – well what we saw of it anyway, driving along the water. They seem to have really put all their effort into making it as attractive as possible for tourists. There are huge entrance gates that open onto long wide tree-lined roads with huge lettering above the gate saying ‘Ha Long Maritime Park’ or something similar. Kinda makes you feel like you’re in America. We got to the wharf and waited inside for what felt like forever but I’m sure it was just 30 minutes or so. Our poor tourguide was running around trying to herd anyone and keep us together – it was complete mayhem but we stayed where he put us so we didn’t miss anything. One of the couples who’d been on our bus were causing a commotion with two tourguides including our own, and we discovered (well, overheard) that the poor guy had his phone nicked! We immediately checked our pockets and bags assuming it’d taken place in the wharf station but apparently it was a new intern for the tour company who was on the bus with us all the way – while we were still on the bus he’d asked to borrow the phone to take pics of something. Now the guy was sitting right next to him and we were still moving and he had a company t shirt and everything so of course he did. Shortly after we got off the bus and he turned to take his phone back but the guy was walking away, phone in hand. Of course as soon as he called and started following him he picked up the pace and sprinted off. You really can never tell who to trust!
Eventually we got on a boat and we were off. After some cold tea and wet cloths to wipe our skanky faces with we got our keys and went to our cabins. Nothing like the pictures (not one bit) but clean and comfy enough bed and a shower bathroom thing. We thought our lights didn’t work but the guy came and showed us some random switches behind the bed and voila. Oh and they would turn the AC back on after dinner. Fair enough. We are too used to having everything we want these days and the reality is we have no idea how to cope without them. Not a clue.
Anyway so we moved on out into the bay and it’s pretty much beautiful straight away. Huge tall limestone rocks/mountains coming up out of the sea, I’m sure you’ve seen photos of this already. Most of them are so tall you have to crane your neck to look up at them if you pass close by. They’re all quite asthetically pleasing too – silver and grey rock with a vivid green foliage all over it. Some form weird shapes, eroded by the weather and the sea, and others have had little pieces chipped away so much that little caves are now part of the bottom of the limestone. Very picturesque. The sky was totally blue and it was absolutely roasting. There is a humidity here that is almost unbearable, when there’s a breeze it’s like the best thing ever in your life at that moment.
We slowly inched our way between lots of limestones and got great views and came to our first stop – The Surprising Cave. We got off the boat and walked up a thousand steps (nah not that many really) to the entrance of the cave. It consisted of three chambers, each one bigger than the last, and full of stagmites and weird shaped rock. Everything was wet and dripping fresh water which the tourguide told us is extra special as the local fisherman use it to drink. We were pointed to lots of peculiar shaped rock, one being called the ‘happy finger’ which everyone chuckled at.
We came out of the cool cave back into ridiculously high temperatures about an hour later and then, thankfully, the boat took us to a nearby beach for free time. We were told if you hike to the top you can see most of the bay so off we hiked. It was big stone steps all the way and I may have had three half heart-attacks on the climb but we made it and turned around. Ok so the view was pretty but it would have been amazing if they’d cut the trees back a teeny bit and also out a bench or two at the top – it was a patch of gravel about 5m squared and of course lots of very red-faced huffing and puffing people clambering to take pictures. Sadly the one pic we had taken of us was so blurry and is such a good one so Aitaaaa I will be begging you to do something with it, or Gdad! Such a frickin shame, wish people put a bit of effort into those kind of things, of course we took like 5 pics of them and they were really cool, dammit. Anyway, so my fourth heart attack was imminent so we started the climb down. Halfway down we heard the bushes rustle and people were pointing and we saw two little rhesus monkeys in the low branches about 5m away from the steps. Click click click and on we went… two steps later Javi spotted another one on the ground, so I sat down and he came within about a metre which was cool. Then down to the tiny beach at the bottom of the steps to throw our sweaty selves into a lukewarm turquoise sea. Uuuh that was so nice and refreshing, like a bath honestly. Everyone was a little out off by the rubbish that was steadily floating towards us though – that was disappointing. Here we are in one of the natural wonders of the world and there is a floating pile of plastic bags, bottles, wrappers etc. Actually I should say there ARE, we’ve seen a few clumps of rubbish out in the bay. It genuinely makes me a bit sad, why can’t we just pick up after ourselves? Stopping myself before I go into a full on rant. Soooooo after our hike up the hill, our monkey watching, and our dip in the sea we returned to the boat – but not before the captain made us wash our feet in a bucket and also our flip flops and also shake out our towels. They took mine from me and did it coz I think I was just shaking sand all over the captain hehee. Oops.
Oh that cold shower was heavenly. Shame it makes the sound of a gigantic HANGRY mosquito but the coolness of freshwater is more than welcome here. I could shower ten times a day easily. But you forget the second you turn the tap off you’re sweating again. Oh. Kinda pointless. And you better master the art of drying yourself and getting your clothes back on in the seven seconds before you start sweating again, or you’ll have serious problems. Up on deck we went for our evening cooking class – this consisted of our tourguide showing us how to wrap a spring roll the Vietnamese way. We were all salivating by this point after the long hot day. All the days here are so long – the sun rises about half 5 and life begins pretty soon after so your daily activity can start at like 8, so by the time it’s 1pm you feel like it’s about 5, and so on. And then it gets dark at 6-6.30pm. Then they whisked the spring rolls away to be fried with our dinner and we all sat down at the long wooden table inside. We sat at one end with the French couple who lost the guys phone and an Aussie couple who have been travelling Southeast Asia for 5 months now and have been motorbiking up from Southern Vietnam for six weeks already. Wow. How cool. Now this is a small mention for my friend Batman (hope you’re reading or shizzle ma nizzle) – this girl reminds me soooo much of you it’s weird! She looks like you, speaks like the quiet you and I just haven’t been able to stop staring at her pretty much. She’s very lovely too.
Ok so as we’re eating dinner they have a multicoloured discoball twirling above our heads and all of the nostalgic pop songs from the 90s blaring out. I was laughing so much when, pre dinner, we were sitting outside on the little deck and someone like Flo Rida came on with ‘I’m On A Boat’ as we passed bigger and posher boats with families holding glasses of something posh. Any of you know this song? Please youtube it. The explicit lyrics and swearing were a tad embarrassing… I’m on a boat suckers, I’m on a fucking boat, never been on a fucking boat before. Look at me I’m on a motherfucking boat… something along those lines. Blasting out of our boat in a beautiful area of nature and tranquility! What did we sign up for, 18-30? Hahahah it was so funny. I think that’ll tickle me for a few days yet.
Dinner consisted of maaaany many plates of food, eg. Squid salad, yummy potato wedges, chinese grass salad (delicious but doesn’t break so you gotta swallow it in clumps or it’ll be in both your mouth and your gut at the same time), tasty noodles, chicken and veg, fishcakes that were chewy but nice flavour (maybe they were supposed to be chewy, I don’t know), rice of course, clams and shrimp/prawns. Oh and juicy mango and dragon fruit for dessert – enjoying the fruit here a lot. After all this we were pretty sleepy but managed to spend quite a bit of time sitting off the open front of the boat with a big light on the water fishing for squid. After a good couple of hours we’d not caught anything but we’d seen little youngsters coming up and swimming at the surface. Weird creatures. There are so many teeny fish too, they’re so cute and sparkly and like.to jump across the water in unison ALOT – it looks so pretty, like a miniature dolphin pod. We hung out with the rest if the group for a while and now we are about to close our heavy eyes and sleep. You may have noticed many spelling mistakes in these blogs but editing comes later – I’m three quarters asleep when I type this on my phone so take it like it is… 🙂 early start tomorrow so niiiight!
(Oh and if I haven’t already said it, lack of photos due to not using my phone, sowwy!)
Wait! You know what we did catch something when squid fishing! Javi didn’t realise what it was but all of a sudden he had a huuuuge red and yellow striped… jumper on the end of the bamboo rod. In his efforts to get the hook out in the water the jumper was just too strong and snapped the wire and got away.
Oh and another thing I forgot! When we were coming down a lot of steps from the exit of the cave to come back to the boat, all of a sudden the movement of people on the stairs stopped and I looked up to see my nightmare. Well, many people’s nightmare! Three massive spider webs, and when I say massive I mean bigger than a dinner table, were stretched high above the path. That gave me the shivers enough as it was then I had to go and notice the homeowners. Spiders as big and hard looking as the one outside the Guggenheim. No joke, they were bigger than a mans palm, a stretched palm, like as big as a dinner plate! Shudder. Great this is how I choose to end my blog before going to bed.
Oh dear. Night