Friday, January 18, 2008

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Floating Fruit stall, Halonmg Bay, Vietnam, originally uploaded by Nice Logo.

We went for an amazing boat tour all 'in-coo-ded' around Halong Bay, 3 days 2 nights. It's a beautiful place, made even more atmospheric because of the mist. We Went kayaking and bought some beers from the floating markets. We went trekking on Cat Ba Island, where we stayed the first night and had visited some caves.

After Halong Bay we headed back to Hanoi
. We had a sleeper bus booked for our trip from Hanoi to Hue. A mini bus picked us up from our Hotel, it was packed! A German guy huffed and puffed. We squeezed on, managing to pile our bags in, somewhere. We drove around the busy city at rush hour, then stopped at another hotel, an Australian woman and her teenage daughter were waiting with their bags. “This is ridiculous!!!” shouted the German, bursting in a fit of rage. The Aussies somehow squeezed in, with bags on their laps, “Allrrrrright”.

The mini bus took us to the edge of town where we changed onto a big modern sleeper bus. The bus had three strips of beds running down it, top and bottom bunks. Ellie got the front middle bed and was convinced she’d be fired straight out the windscreen come the first sharp brake. The back beds were cosy, four beds all together, romantic. The drivers mate was at the back, the bus was no smoking, he lit up a fag, Kaz asked him to please put it out, he pretended to not understand, Kaz took the cigarette and stubbed it out on the wall, the embers almost setting the day-glo carpeted walls alight. The drivers mate was shocked but said nothing, he looked a little scared.

There was quite a good buzz onboard, we chatted with the Aussies and some Kiwi’s. The German guy was still fuming about something. Listened to some tunes and watched the random collection of videos on the TV, downloads of funny adverts, Internet clips (including that great George Bush & Tony Blair Endless Love song), music… Then got some sleep amongst the crazy driving and non-stop horn blasts.

In the morning we could hear the German guy panicking again. We were supposed to arrive in Hue at 9am, he had booked another bus from there for 10am!??! It was now nearly 9am and we were a long way from Hue. “Why, What’s the problem, it’s a perfectly good bus, why so slow, this is ridiculous!” The driver looked lost, we thought he stopped to ask for directions at least once. We pulled up alongside a cafĂ© near Danang, “OK 30 minutes, Breakfast stop” announced the driver. The German guy erupted “NO STOPPING !!!!” “NO!!!”, “This is ridiculous!!!!” We couldn’t help pissing ourselves laughing.

We got breakfast, I had Pho – Noodle Soup, a surprisingly great breakfast! The guy serving us asked us where we heading, what were our plans etc. We told him we were heading to Hue, and also wanted to visit the De Militarized Zone (DMZ) and Vinh Moc Tunnels. Excitedly he told us he ran tours from here (never!) and gave us the pitch. It worked out perfect, we could do the tour with him then get a minibus, ‘in-coo-ded’, to Hue after.

The German guy was pacing up and down outside the bus, Jamie went to talk to him, and it looked like he had calmed down a little. After some consolatory ‘you have to go with flow mate, don’t you, can’t plan to much…’ Jamie then added ‘I think they only stop here to get people on tours’, they both laughed, but he didn’t seem too amused.

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