The Halong trip was absolutely amazing! There were 8 of us on it out of a possible 16, two English lads, an American and English girl, another older English bloke with his wife who quickly turned out to be total wankers, and a rather strange Czech bloke from Prague, called “Czech” who spent the entire trip either drinking beer, smoking or videoing anything and everything. The boat was incredible and rather like a floating 5-star hotel (relative to traveller’s terms, anyway) brand new but done in traditional style and extremely large and comfortable. We had a great guide, crew and food as well. We cruised out into the bay on the first day and did some swimming in the very warm waters, Czech providing much amusement in his Speedo. Then it was mealtime, which turned into a game of “who can avoid sitting with the wankers” from there on. Czech had paid an extra wedge for air conditioning, and whilst I was up on the sun deck at night with the other lads and Czech, drinking beer, the girls stole the air con remote from Czech’s cabin and turned on the units in their cabin and mine as well which was blessed relief. Unfortunately they turned it on at 16C so it was bloody freezing but still probably better than sweating it out all night.
Next day we stopped off at a big limestone cave, in keeping with the ruggedness of the 2,000 or so limestone islands that make up Halong Bay, then went kayaking across to a floating community. We stopped off at the (floating) school because our guide fancies the teacher there and so he stops every day to ask her some irrelevant question. They were tandem kayaks and of course, I had Czech in mine who was something of a nutter behind the paddle. All of us easily managed to leave the Wankers well to the rear, even though they are allegedly “experts” in the field.
Arrived back to Hanoi in the evening and went for dinner with the new gang, and just managed to leave in time to catch my 11pm train. This was yet another very pleasant night train journey, with a nice rough track so you really get some good rocking motion going on. So now I’m in Hue which seems to be a pretty reasonable small city and certainly a lot cheaper than Hanoi. Tomorrow I’ve stupidly booked myself on a DMZ (DeMilitarised Zone) tour which picks me up at 6am – what was I thinking! It takes you to various tunnels and whatnot, will find out exactly what tomorrow I suppose. Next day I might rent a Russian Minsk death trap motorbike and check out the tombs a little way out of town, but not too sure yet.