Ha Long Bay - Party on! 10th May - 12th May
As you've read in the previous blog we had big recommendations from friends to do the "Halong Bay" tour with our hostel. It was one of the main attractions we both wanted to see here in Vietnam and we knew we wouldn't get ripped off with this tour as like many scams in SE Asia you are likely to get conned somewhat for what you pay for. The bus picked us up around 8am in the morning to take us to the port. The ride wasn't so bad only 4 hours with half an hour stop in what is the equivalent of a Vietnamese service station which sold the most random but very nice things! When we were split into 2 boats we were gutted as all the people we had met were on a separate boat. We were left with a load of Canadians from Ottawa to be precise who were annoying as hell! Great! It was grand though as we had met some cool people from Oz and Europe (Kayleigh, Ash, Fletch, Phil, Gunner, Luuk) so our boat was very divided straight from the start. This was a bonus in all honesty as they did our heads in and just was not on our level. Everything that came out their mouth was either "super", "cool" or "awesome" and it seemed as though everything was a competition with them… far too much effort for us as we just wanted to have a laugh and a good time. Obviously we were just not cool enough to join their parties…thank f***!
Anyway we had our own party going on. It was drink, drink and more drink on the party cruise liner. There were some boat and tour rules the first was "buffalo" this meant if any caught you drinking in your right hand you would have to down or "shot gun" your drink. You were also not allowed to say the words TEN or MINE if you did you had to do 10 press ups in front of everyone. I think I must have done a good 70 over the few days and Dai possibly more. (Playing card games caught us out no end!)
As we cruised through Halong Bay, drinking in the sun and taking in the most breath- taking scenery. I totally had one of those wow moments and felt so lucky to be experiencing this. We were shocked how good the boat was and the lunch we had was absolutely stunning, fresh prawns and squid plus other culinary delights. Gunner who was from Iceland also had a nut allergy which was reassuring so we sat together and tested the food out!! Our cabin was lovely and I was surprised we had our own bathroom with a power shower yay! We got to jump off from the top deck of the boat into the sea which was about 6meteres high or so. It did take me a while to do it and I was very concerned about the jelly fish but I did it twice woop woop. I was so proud of myself! Soon after we paired up and went kayaking to a cave in a boy-girl format( easy for me and Dai) as apparently two girls together was not allowed as they talk too much and hold the group up (how rude). We took the most essential supplies such as beer and of course a torch for the cave.
It was pretty cool kayaking in Halong bay although it was quite far to the cave especially after drinking for a good few hours in the sun! Dai had to complete the 100m kayak challenge as we were on the end of the line-up of kayaks before we left which was basically where we all linked kayaks and Dai had to run from one end of the kayaks to the other…pretty impressive if I do say so myself and our Irish tour guide was impressed also so much so Dai gained himself a free beer! I'm so glad he asked Dai and not me as I would've made a complete tit of myself and fallen straight on my face knowing me! We joined up with the other boat so there was around 50 plus people kayaking together. This proved quite a challenge once in the caves especially where there were sections where you had to crawl one by one as it was so low along with only having like 10 torches between the two big groups. I think there were a few injuries! We were joking how the tour guides (they are English, Irish or Canadian) gets us to drink loads (obviously forcing beers down our throats!) then kayak and fumble about in low headed caves. It did make it more fun though! The Vietnamese tour guide did give us a story with the lights off in the cave but we couldn't understand a word he said! I'm sure it was very interesting though. The sun was going in and darkness was pretty much approaching but Dai and I made a great team and kayaked back fairly quickly despite the alcohol consumption!!
After yet another incredible Vietnamese dinner we all joined together for drinking games! As I was the oldest on the boat by probably a good 4 years (I didn't let this on though) I felt well experienced at drinking games and was ready for the worst. Happy hour at the bar started so it was 3 for 2 on rum or vodka with a mixer and you needed this with the games. To give you a brief outline the drinking games involved forfeits depending on what card you pulled out. Dai and I were incredibly thankful we were in a couple so were excluding from some of the forfeits but used each other when you had to swap clothes with the opposite sex or kiss each other. It got messy for some but we were both surprisingly soba... I don't know youngsters today just can't hack the old school pace!! I think we went to bed around 3am or so.
Breakfast was 7am ooh bright and early. We were the first up highly excited about breakfast as the food had been so good. Oh it was bread and jam with 1 egg I can't express to you my disappointment (I don't love food much…honest!) I was feeling pretty tired and ratty as didn't sleep well and judging by the rest of the boat no-one was chirpy!! All those leaving that night jumped on the other boat and those staying and going on to Castaway Island came with us on ours so we were re-united with Carol and a few others we had met. We all transferred onto a tiny boat which took around 1 hour to get to the Island where we were met by Taco the island host.
The same rules applied with buffalo etc we had time to chill before lunch and then the water sports fun began. We opted for high speed tubing and it was such a thrill…200 horsepower boat pulling you on rubber tube type things at extremely high speed. Taco tried to get us to do tricks like swap tubes or roll over…no chance I daren't let go of the bloody thing... Gee wizz I was holding on for my life. Dai and I shared a tube and kayleigh and Fletch had the other with Luuk on the boat taking pics. It was hard staying on especially when the tubes collided. I did end up with some bruises from the impact of hitting the water so hard but I was grateful to not land on a jelly fish unlike some! We were out for a good 15-20mins and once we got back to shore we decided we deserved a beer so started drinking again. Some guys went wake boarding but as we had never done it before we wasn't allowed which was a shame. You could also spend the afternoon rock climbing and paying badminton and generally chilling. The lightweights opted for a nap but we thought it was best to stay up and get back on it!
That night after great food we all joined the tables together and played more drinking games which again involved forfeits with cards. My card got pulled out twice the first challenge I had to run around the volley ball post on the beach and back to my seat with about another 7 people last person had to drink. I wasn't last but I cut my foot ( which still hasn't healed) when 6 other people fell on me going round the post (totally forgot about the string tying it down doh). The second time I had to put a pair of the opposite sex's underwear on my head…thank god for Dai he does come in handy! WE were both dreading the last challenge if our card was pulled as you had to put toilet paper between your bum cheeks and someone would set fire to it and you had to shotgun (down) a beer before it burns. Yes we were so lucky it wasn't our card… Fun but painful to watch. Drinking went on until around 5am when we were the last to bed with the Irish and some other British guys. After drinking so much vody and redbull I couldn't sleep so I sat up on the beach until 7am chatting to Gen (who was a sound Canadian) when breakfast was served.
8am we left to go back to the boat and then a 4 hour bus ride back to the hostel where everyone looked the worst for ware. Top times we're so glad we did it although I don't think our livers would agree with that though!