We booked a tour through Ha Long bay, including a 1 night stay on a boat and 2 nights in a bungalow on Cat Ba Island in the bay.
The bus to the bay was set to leave at 7:30, and our hostel owners were banging down the door at this time. We stumbled to the bus and set out on the most terrifying ride of our lives. The driver drove way too fast, and to pass apparently you just drive on the wrong side into oncoming traffic. The busses were doing this in both directions for the entire 4 hour drive, and scooters were weaving between them. It was hard to decide whether to cover your eyes or look so you knew what was happening.
Once we got to the bay and onto the boat we had lunch. This consisted of french fries, clams, and something very hard to explain... Soup. The soup had the appearance of throw up, the consistancy of mucus, and tasted good... very confusing.
After lunch we went to an enormous cave, followed by kayaking around the floating villiage and swimming off the boat. The weather was amazing and we looked forward to staying on the boat. Once we got out of the water everyone was gathered and told that the police said no one can stay on the boat because a storm was headed in, although it didnt look like it at all. Instead we were put into a hotel on land, where we had an ok dinner, and alot of beer with the other people on the boat. We had made friends with 2 very nice people from Germany, Chris and Ruth, and spent the night chatting with them about all of their world travels.
Later on from the hotel window we saw it was raining insanely hard, and the thunder and lightning was like nothing I have seen before. It was lighting up the room and shaking the windows. I guess they knew something we didn't... thank god we were on land.
By morning all was clear so we went for a walk before getting back on the boat where we were set to stay instead of the bungalow for one night. On our walk we found the biggest snails I have seen, and worms the size of your arm. We picked up a few things including $0.75 beers and a $5 26 of vodka... for later.
That day we spent the day on a beach on an island, climbed the mountain there, and did alot more swimming and jumping in. After all of that was a buffet dinner and drinks on the roof. we stayed on the boat that night which was... different. A real experience. The cockroaches were the size of your thumb, and i don't even want to know the size of the rats we heard in the walls all night. Needless to say we escaped unharmed but opted out of the extra night in the bungalow and headed back to the city the next day.
In the morning while the boat made its way back to land everyone hung out on the roof deck and read and tanned. I (Sam) obviously wasnt paying attention and even though I was reapplying sunscreen I must have been sweating it off faster, because I wound up with and uneven and bright red sunburn. That combined with definate heat stroke, the worst sleep in the most uncomfortable bed, and a crazy 4 hour bus ride home made me pretty grumpy by the end of last night. I was in bed by 8pm! It is morning now, we are having coffee and my burn is a million times better, so all is right in the world again.
We are gonna wander around Hanoi for a few more hours now while we wait for the bus to our next stop, Hue. There who knows what we will do, alot of beach time I'm sure. We will be there for a few days, and will check in the moment we find internet.