Monday, 12 December 2011

Halong Bay

Day one of the bike trip. I set off from the garage with my ruck sack securely strapped to my bike and my smaller bag on my back. The first roads I went on where an absolute dream, a fantastic mix of rugged gravel with sections of sweeping bends and little villages to pass this stage the roads where quite enough to listen to music while I was riding so I was really in my element on the first day. Also everywhere that I stopped in to get food was well off the tourist trail so not only was it really cheap and tasty but the people where also really friendly too. Now having said that it did take a lot longer to get to the Halong City.Having arrived pretty late I checked in at a hostel recommended by the Lonely Planet based on the idea that I'd be on a boat trip with other westerners and not a bunch of middle aged Asian's that I wouldn't be able to talk to. I also figured that as it was LP recommended that the tour would be a good standard and reasonably priced. I didn't do a whole lot of investigating afterwords to see how much other people had paid but I got the impression that for what I got it was a little pricey but I did speak to some people who paid more and got less so it's all good.

So the morning of the boat trip I did a little work on my blog then the rep picked me up and took me to the peer on the back of his scooter. I was bricking it as all the other westerns I spoke to at the peer where on different boats and I could see a lot of groups of Asians walking around. Then when it came to getting on the boat there was 4 russians, 2 spanish, 2 german, an iranian, a girl from korea and basically everyone on the boat spoke a different language to English as their main language! As it turned out it was ok as I met a really interesting girl (see my reflection chapter) who was great to talk to and on the first day we visited some cool caves, saw the fishing community's and did a bit of kayaking. Then we settled at the place we were staying for the night and the guide said you can swim in the sea if you like. At which point I said to him "can i jump in from the top?" to which he replied "yes" and without a seconds hesitation I threw my T-shirt off and jumped straight in from the top deck! Think that got me a bit of codos with the Russians and they where all jumping in straight after me and later that night they even called me "messiah"! Then I started drinking vodka with the Russians and got rather pissed before doing a couple of hours of Karaoke.

The next morning my brain felt several sizes too large for my head so I was straight on the Resolve to try and combat the hangover I'd earned. After a bit of hanging around and the boat breaking down for a bit we eventually made it to Cat Ba island for day 2 of the trip. At this stage I only had the two russians who couln't speak hardly any English and a German girl who was ok but the conversation was a little forced and not as flowing as with other people I'd met. Anyway, we walked around this nature reserve for about 3 hours and as the weather was shit and I was rocking the Jesus sandals I nearly fell over a fair few times. Eventually made it to the top and if it had been a clear day it would have been a magnificent view. Then we all went back to the hotel, had a bit of a snooze then went to the Lonely Planet recommended cafe on the island for some bloody amazing food and fried banana with ice cream and mango pancakes. That night we went out for a quite drink and I tried my best to chat up this Russian girl I'd met that day. It emerged that she was going the same way as me so we exchanged numbers and planned to meet in a few days...... I'll come back to that in the next entry ;-).

That was about it for the boat trip really, had it been a clear day it would have been an amazing experience but as it was a bit shitty it was a good job that the people on the boat where cool to carry the experience.

It's free cocktails between 6.30 and 7.30 at the hotel I'm staying at so I better head to the bar to get my drink on. Only about a week behind now on my blog so maybe I'll do some more tonight or tomorrow.


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