Friday 9 Feb
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Took the REAL Kangaroo Cafe tour to Halong Bay
Halong Bay is this beautiful area off the east coast of Vietnam full of James Bond (Man with the Golden Gun) style islands (3000 of them apparently but we didn't count) and beautiful clear waters. We took the REAL Kangaroo Cafe tour (there are 2 fakes in Hanoi) which was a great choice. Everything is fake in Vietnam and you can see why they don't have strict copyright laws or half the city would shut down. Not good for North Face and the Kangaroo Cafe, but excellent for us little people as you can pick up a decent anything for a song. Mostly half a song.
We were lucky enough to have some really good fellow tour groupies along with us (have to say they were nice -gave them this blog address... no seriously they really were great. 4 Dutch, 1 Ozzie, 1 Scott and 1 Canadian plus Chi our guide. Chi (which means energy) would get so excited telling us about things that she would make little or no sense, swallowing so much of the word that sometimes we were left wondering what she was so excited about. Especially when she got into geology...
We stayed on a junk (not actually meaning a piece of junk here but rather a quaint wooden boat) the first night after visiting Surprising Caves. They were actually surprising in that they were beautiful and huge and the ceilings which really looked like prefabricated cement turned out to be 'formed by waves over thousands of years'. Still think it looked like concrete. Business does not stop here just because you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean. We thought we were about to be boarded by pirates as this boat zoomed towards us. Turned out they were selling us fruit - in the middle of the ocean! Crazy.
Funny thing is that there are actually pirates in the China Sea (which is where we were) according to Andrew who has always been a veritable fountain of information. This ensured that no-one slept too soundly even though we treated ourselves to some expensive wine and a few too many Halidas (North Vietnamese beer).
Checked out another cave the next day and visited Monkey Island where we swam and lay in the sun and watched the local populace attacking the monkeys and being attacked back. Not kidding. No such thing as animal welfare here. Or common sense it seems.
This is getting too long now so I will leave the rest up to your imagination - tip - it involved more Halidas.
Another tip, this one for the ladies - don't try and buy tampons in Vietnam. They just don't get the concept.
Off to dinner now and then hopping on a train down South - to Hoi An. 'Au revoir' since we are in a French colony. Woops - forgot to put 'ex colony', I would say pretty important to the folks around here. But they do make a wicked pain au chocolat
We've managed to upload photos for both Hanoi and Halong Bay, check them out here: Vietnam Pics