On Friday Dave, Allan and I set off on a two day rip to Halong Bay
, along with thirty some odd drunk backpackers from the hostel. Apart from the round the clock antics, it was a good trip. The boat was pretty decent (I'd heard horror stories about bedbug infested nightmare trips), and while the food wasn't particularly good, it was abundant. The weather was much cooler than we anticipated, and colder still when you factor in the wind whipping over a moving boat, and not a single ray of sunshine to be had. Perhaps the proximity to China has something to do with it, but Halong Bay was terribly hazy.
After a bus from Hanoi
to Halong and then a ferry to our boat, we scarfed down lunch and spent the afternoon kayaking.
Halong Bay is quite pretty, littered with karst peaks and the occasional cave to explore. (The same range of limestone peaks that starts in southern China, where I hiked them in Yangshuo and Xing Ping, continues through Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, finally ending near Krabi, where I also hiked to the top of one for Tiger Cave Temple. Many people don't realize it's the same mountain chain.) I was paired up with Sylvia, a girl from New Zealand, and the two of us made pretty good partners, chatting and paddling at a leisurely pace.
Friday night was one obnoxious frat party, with drinking games and stacks of empty beer cans reaching to the ceiling and terrible music cranked entirely too loud. I played nice and even had one more beer than I wanted (ever the team player!) but finally gave up and said my good nights and was one of the first to bed.
Saturday was more of the same (although there was no kayaking), with an overload of blah food as we chugged our way back to port. By early afternoon we were back on the bus, loud wasted Irish boys included, and finally pulled into Hanoi shortly before dinner, but not before every last one of my nerves was frayed.
I did manage to read a book cover-to-cover on the ride home, making it my third book in under a week. Talk about a great week for reading -- bus rides and airports galore. Sadly, nothing brilliant or truly engrossing; bookshelves in hostels are awfully limited. Somebody should do something about that.