Halong Bay, Viet Nam
20° 53' N 107° 39' E
Nov 14, 2005 11:28
Distance 188km

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Text written in: English

Halong Bay - peace at last

The night before I left for Halong Bay I went to dinner with the two Brits and the German guy I met on the plane to Hanoi. We went searching for a place called Little Hanoi and found it but we think it was the wrong one. Over here if something is recommended by Lonely Planet then another plae wll spring up with the same name. It was good and the first place I'd come aross which didn't sell chicken because of the bird flu. I also saw a massive cockroach come in from outside.

That day I had met a Vietnamese boy down by the lake. At first I thought he wanted money but he just wanted to practice his English so he put a newspaper down for me to sit on and I talked to him for a while. His name was Tuan (photo in Hanoi entry) and when he was young his parents moved to Munich so he knows German well but he wants to be a tour guide and they say his English isn't good enough so maybe in 6 months. While he was in Germany his parents divorced and he returned home to Hanoi with his mum. 6 months later she remarried and moved back to Germany and left him in Hanoi (he's 23). He paid a recruitment company his last $10 to find him a job but they never get him one and tell him it's his problem. And because he went to Germany his schooling in Vietnam isn't complete. So I bought him an icecream and turned out it was his first mea of the day and he came with me to the lake to see the temple. He liked using my digicam so that's why there are lots of photos of me n the Hanoi section. I paid him some money so he could find somewhere to sleep. I was wary of beng a sucker, but what's a few dollars to me? The average Vietnamese wage is $400USD per year. It may have helped that he said my 'face is younger than me'. He likes hip-hop and R&B.

On the way back I saw a lady squat and pull her undies out of the way and wee on the sidewalk. I wasn't so hungry then. I'm still only eating fruit for breakfast and then a dinner. But not beause of her.

So, on the way to Halong Bay I nearly spewed again because I took my anti-malarials on an empty stomach. Our guide Vinh said "The Chinese ruled for 100 years, the French 100 years and the Americans 20 years. But my generation doesn't care about the past - we are building the future'. But finally got on board, met a cool English couple who have offered me a room n their house in London. The limestone karsts sticking out of the sea go on forever. Most of the food was seafood which I don't like so I said I was vegetarian so ended up having to eat peanuts and tofu the whole trip. Tried a little bit of the fish though and turns out it was a river fish and tasted like mud. We went to Surprising Cave which was surprising - will put photos on when I find a place with faster internet. Then took a siwm off the baoat at sunset and slept onboard. The next day we went kayaking and I was by myself in a two man kayak as the others all had partners. We went for miles over sea and tides/wind etc into little grottoes with caves and fish jumping in front of our kayaks then back to the floating villages. The people live in wee houses that float on the sea. They even have their pets on board - cats and dogs (poor things) and I saw a school and one house just had a pool table and a hammock and pots for cooking. They spent most of their days fishing off their man-made boats and some row out to the tour boats and offer food for ridiculous prices. At the end of the cruise we went to an island to have lunch and I finally got some real food. On they way back we stopped at a centre that makes money for the community by selling their handicrafts and saw some snake wine. You'll see in the picture when I load it - it's a real cobra with a sorpion or snake in it's mouth. Yuck. They also sell Weasol coffee in Hanoi - beans fed to weasols and comes out the other end, washed and made into coffee which apprently tastes great. And chocolatey (?). I'd like to knw how this was first discovered. Who thought 'maybe if we brewed coffee beans weasols (in particular?) had pooed out it might taste good'...

Back in Hanoi I jumped on a motorcycle with my packs and went to the train station to catch the overnight train to Hoi An where I am now.



Photos / videos of "Halong Bay - peace at last":

Out my cabin window Sarah and Grant from London Halong Bay Floating house Floating village Halong Bay Halong Bay Halong Bay Surprising Cave This is supposed to be a 'finger' - ??! Surprising Cave indeed Surprising Cave Surprising Cave Surprising Cave Surprising Cave Surprising Cave Sunset at Halong Bay Snake wine - real cobra and snake ugh These people live in the floating villages and row over to the boats "you buy, you buy!". No rest even in the most remote places! Sunset at Halong Bay Sunset at Halong Bay Moon over Halong Bay