Day 81-92 in the world of Sam and Dani: Well where do we start... Hanoi...
We arrived in Hanoi after another horrific night bus (surprise surprise) but this time it was 14 hours, fun! We got a taxi to Hanoi backpacker's hostel which was recommended by almost everyone we'd spoken to. Once checked into our dorm we got changed and headed to the roof where there was a BBQ (best burgers ever) and free beer, oh yes! The bar closes at 9.30pm because of the neighbours so we went on a mission to find the infamous beer corner. Bizarre set up, you sit on little stools on the road and depending who you bought the beer off depended on where you were allowed to sit, Sam and Lynz were sat on their own because they didn't realise this and bought theirs from the wrong person, but beer was only 3,000 dong which is about 10p! The following day we just chilled out in preparation for the Halong Bay trip, a must for anyone going to Hanoi. A 3 day 2 night trip where you spend one night on a boat, go kayaking and explore caves, and the second night is spent on a private castaway island doing water sports.. Basically a massive piss up =)
Halong Bay (Attempt 1)
The Tuesday morning when we were due to leave we were told that a typhoon might hit and interfere with the trip but if it did we would be taken to a different island called Cat Ba where there are 'loads of other activities to do' regardless of the weather, so we decided to chance it. On the journey to the harbour the tour guide said that because the weather had deteriorated we were going to spend the first night on Cat Ba and play it by ear from there. By the time we arrived it began chucking it down which meant we were stuck in the hotel. To make it worse the power went on and off throughout the day so we couldn't even watch any films! There was a health spa in the hotel which had a jacuzzi, pool, gym etc in, but typically it was under renovation. So basically the day was spent playing games you used to play on car journeys: Grandma went to market, 20 questions, word association etc. The evening was not so boring, due to the fact that a bottle of vodka costs less than 2 pounds! We made friends with four lads Rob, Pete, Justin and Liam as most of the other people on our trip were pretty boring. We started off with the usual pre-drinking then went to the local bar which involved the boys drinking bulls testicle vodka, burgh! Stupid Rob had 3, what was he thinking?!
The next day we went for breakfast and were pretty gutted to discover that we had last nights left overs of chips, rice, noodles and springs rolls, we ask WHY? Why would people feed you that for breakfast?! We also found out that the typhoon had hit and we had to stay on Cat Ba for another day, another day of doing nothing, yay! But once again the evening made up for it, drinking games before we left (where Sam was stitched up by majorly), then off to the bar. We ended up having drinking competitions, head to head drinking pints, then boat races. Sam got roped into it and even though she was the only girl managed to win one of the head to head drinking rounds (the guy who beat her won the overall thing, very important point). In the boat race she wasn't so lucky as her team lost which meant that they had a forfeit drink, what no one told her till afterwards was that it was snake vodka! She did really well holding it down unlike Justin who was outside throwing up, ha! The boys also invented an entertaining game for spectators, where they wore a crash helmet and took turns hitting each other over the head with a leather menu, silly boys!
When we woke up the next morning there was no power in our room, first thoughts were that we were going to have to stay another night on the island, but no.. Rob had turned our main power switch off in his drunken state, how nice! We left Cat Ba and went back to Hanoi through Halong Bay, spending an hour on the boat we should have stayed on the first day. It stopped for 15minutes to let everyone jump off and have a little swim before carrying on back to the harbour. Sam was still abit drunk and decided that she'd jump in with Lynz and Phil but each time she went over she got scared and would run back at the last minute. Unfortunately, the third time she slipped and fell in anyways.
Back at the hostel we spoke to the owners about getting a refund for the trip as we didn't actually do anything we were supposed to. He told us that he could give 30% back or you could get 50% off another trip. Because the 6 (Lynz, Shaun, Critch, Phil, Rach and Nic) were flying out that night they got their money back, but we decided, along with Rob and Pete, that we'd do it again. We said a tearful bye to the 6, although we're going to see most of them in Oz it was pretty sad saying bye, they've been like our family for the last month =(
We booked our trip for a few days later so it meant that we had a little time to recover and to see Hanoi itself. Dani wasn't very well for a few days so spent most of the time in bed, so Sam went with Rob and Pete to Hoa Lo Prison Museum and a wander around. We were on the hunt for fruit shake street which we were told was worth visiting, we were expecting a busy street full of shops/stalls but were very disappointed to find 3 or 4 grotty ones, yum! The night before the second trip Dani felt abit better so we all went to the Water Puppets show, another thing we were told to do. We would say don't bother but then again its worth going for a look to see how bizarre the whole thing is. There's a swimming pool and people stand behind a screen moving objects to music, it is meant to tell a story but we have no idea what it was!
Halong Bay - Attempt 2
We set off in the morning and the sun was out, good start! Dani still wasn't feeling great but we were hoping she'd feel better as the day went on. We had the 4 hour bus ride to the harbour then got a tender boat to the big ship. The ship is similar to a pirate ship with a sunbathing area on the top deck. The cabins were a lot better than we expected and the food, unlike Cat Ba, was really good. Our tour guide Stu introduced himself and explained that we'd sail for about an hour then stop for swimming and jumping into sea. The weather was gorgeous so we sat relaxing listening to tunes =) After all the swimming and the boys trying to out-do each other with backflips into the water we all went and got in our kayaks to explore the caves. They were double so girls and boys got paired up to make it easier. The kayaking was fun, but the novelty soon wore off when we realised how far away the caves were, and despite Rob saying otherwise Sam DID paddle LOTS, she even had a blister to prove it. Dani on the other hand sat back and let Aaron do all the work. The caves were pretty impressive, but kayaking back in the dark with other ships sailing along side you was a little scary.
Back on the boat everyone was showered and had tea before the carnage began once more. We played a massive game of ring of fire and this is where we first discovered the genius rule of A & B. Basically the person who picks the A & B card gets blind folded and the person to their left selects two people, one to be A and the other to be B. The person is then unblindfolded and chooses a dare that A has to do to B, bearing in mind that they can be selected as either themselves. Dani just watched due to not feeling 100% but we got some good photos and videos of what people had to do, including the licking of eye balls and armpits. As you can imagine people got very drunk, more to get the courage to do some of the dares, and at silly o'clock in the morning people were jumping of the boat into the water again.
The next morning everyone felt pretty much like death but this was short lived once we started approaching Castaway Island, a private island owned by the hostel where we would be spending the next 24 hours. When we arrived we had a welcome chat by the lads working on the island (who somehow have managed to blag their uni's into letting them do this as part of their course) who told us about the water sports we could do and about where we'd be sleeping etc. We spent most of the day sunbathing on the beach and chilling in the sea, basically enjoying paradise! Dani still not feeling too well decided she didn't want to do any sports so two irish lads (Sean and Danny), Pete and Sam went tubing, the best thing ever! Sam went on with Sean and Danny (wedged in the middle luckily) and set off being pulled along by the speed boat. Sam and Sean did well to stay on, Danny was useless and was the first to come off each time. Dani managed to get some really good videos of us flying off, hopefully we can upload these to the blog.
After some more sunbathing the evenings events took place. We had a lovely BBQ for tea and began with the drinking games once more. Now we thought the A & B rule on the boat was interesting, but no the lads on the island had some more inventive tasks. People had to pass a shot from their mouth into anothers who then had to drink it, there were shots being drank from peoples body parts, pole and lap dancing, and two lads french kissed! Yep, there's no way out of it, its an island rule that you have to do what is said. For the benefits of parents we're going to leave it at that. The song 'I'm on a boat' is the island song and was played I don't know how many times, the theory that the number of times it is played is determined by the amount of alcohol consumed is pretty accurate.
Because we had such a good time, and Dani was starting to feel better, we decided that we wanted to stay another night on Castaway so for $20 we got an extra day of paradise and night of carnage. With Dani drinking again we arranged for someone to bring vodka over for us to keep the cost down which meant we felt we could justify abusing our bodies once more! There were 8 people from our group who decided to stay an extra night (us, Rob, Pete, Danny, Sean and two Argentinians) and the new group who came were a good crowd too. Danny and Sean had decided the previous night that they were going to stay but in their hungover (probably still drunken) states they got on the boat and left in the morning. While on the beach enjoying the serenity of a morning on paradise we suddenly heard an irish voice in the distance.. Danny and Sean were back! Within 5 minutes of them leaving they realised what they were missing and came back with the next group. Skinny dipping and swimming to the pontoon were the activities of that night, along with us discovering how the plankton glows in the water at night =) When we left the following day we were pretty gutted, it was like leaving paradise behind. The boat came to take us back and the sound of the horn blarring across the beach was a pretty nasty alarm clock, but we managed to get on the boat in time with all our possessions except Sam's bikini and flip flops, and almost the camera... AGAIN!
Back in Hanoi Rob and Pete left on the overnight bus to Hoi An, (unlucky) whilst we decided to stay to recover properly before the dreaded nightbus, but arranged to meet up with them there in a few days. The next two nights were spent in the irish bar with Danny and Sean, the first night ending up with our tour guide Stu getting a batman tattoo on his bum (hilarious), and the second with us driving around on scooters for lock ins.. All in all a good time in Hanoi =)