Sitting at a dock in the bay
Ha Long Bay Travel Blog› entry 15 of 19 › view all entries
I woke up like a crazy person at 5am to watch the sunrise. I laughed because David got up in the room next to me and practically walked right by me without noticing me. At breakfast a few hours later, he was bragging that he was the only one who got up. I corrected him and told him how I said hi that morning but he was such a zombie he didn't notice.
We checked out after breakfast since the three day tour people were all going to be spending the night in a hotel on Cat Ba Island. We rode over to the island which is a nature preserve and everyone got off the boat essentially. I found out the Vietnamese couple had stayed as well, but they were in the dining room so I hadn't noticed. After 30 minutes, a group showed up and got on our boat.
We headed over to a floating fishing village in the middle of the bay. They told us for a little extra ($1) we could take a boat to a cave from a James Bond movie. I wanted to get off the boat so I went along with one of the Seattle guys and the Vietnamese couple. It was this flat boat with a motor exposed right under my feet. If I had slipped I would have lost a foot! They controlled the boat by puching a stick and the throttle by pulling a string- very high tech. They definitely did not do a good job selling this mini-tour to us.
Next they took us to a floating village school. They had us get off and interrupt the two small classrooms on the boat. One of the guides had a daughter in the school so she ran out to hug him. The rest of the kids just stared and smiled at us. The rooms were essentially just small desks and a blackboard, but it was very cool to see.
We rode back to Halong City and disembarked. We walked about a block to a restaurant where I saw all the people from my original bus who I was supposed to have been with.
After our meal, I walked around and saw this huge glass jar on the bar filled with hundreds of snakes, a lizard, and an entire crow. I asked what it was and was told it was snake wine. The girl at first didn't believe me when I said I wanted to try it (it was $3). A guy came and stuck a tube into the jar, then sucked until the liquid flowed out into a cup. They then served it to me. By this time, a bunch of tourists had gathered around to watch. It didn't taste that bad actually, just like a strong sake.
I was the first one dropped off and I found a hotel with internet and contacted my homestay. She explained to me that she had a French couple spending the night as well and that I should go to a specific address to share a taxi with them that left in an hour. I went to the address and waited, but eventually gave up after not seeing a taxi waiting or a French couple. I walked to a different street and flagged down the first taxi I saw and showed him the address. He asked if I wanted to go see Miss Luyen (the name of the woman I was staying with).
Luyen lives in an incredibly wealthy area of town, it's a gated community. It looks like an upscale neighborhood in the US, nothing like Vietnam at all. I chatted for a bit, then Luyen walked me to the bus stop so I could meet my friends for dinner. I waited a long time for a bus but nothing came. I finally just asked a taxi how much it would be and while I was talking a xe om driver (motorbike) came up and offered to take me there for very cheap.
I got a table at the restaurant and waited for the Poles to show up. After 15 minutes I motioned to a group of 3 that they could share my table since I didn't think my friends were coming. We got to talking and then the Poles showed up. So we switched to a larger table and shared a meal together. The other three were friends from London, but originally were from either Sri Lanka, Mauritius, or Italy. We decided that each of us would order something and we would all share. So we dined on fried crickets, whole roasted swallows (beaks, heads, bones, and all), horse meat, soft shell crab, pork belly, pig stomach, and frog legs. We all agreed that all the food was surprisingly very good. We even fought over the last crickets. The crickets and whole roasted swallows were definitely the best.