So many Aussies - are there any left in Australia?

Trip Start Oct 14, 2007
Trip End Jul 25, 2008

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On a boat

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

So on Saturday 27 Oct we rose at 7am ready to catch our bus at 8am.  It arrived and we drove round the old quarter of Hanoi picking up other guests who had also booked onto the 3 days 2 nights trip round Halong bay.  We picked up 9 Aussies and 2 yanks, all were a bit subdued due to the early hour i think.
We set off for Halong Bay that was a 3.5 hour drive.  Ha long means 'where the dragon descends into the sea'. The legend says that the islands of Halong Bay were created by its flailing tail, gouging out valleys as it ran towards the coast; they seem to like mystical stories over here and don't believe too much in science!
After Bev and I had slept most of the journey, we arrived at a harbour with dozens of ships ready to set sail round the islands.  Our tour guide (Son) led us to our nice, comfortable Junk boat that would be our home for the next few days.
We boarded and were seated straight away for our fresh sea food lunch.  As the squid, giant prawns, clams and river fish were being served with rice and vegetables, the American couple decided to sit with us.  Bev was already thinking lunch was bad enough with all the sea food laid out before us but now it had got slightly worse.  We exchanged pleasantries, this was brief as I was eager to get stuck into the feast and thought that they (Julie and Shawn) were the most stereotypical American couple we had ever met.  Bev was extremely brave trying all the food and even quite enjoying most of it.
After lunch we all went above deck as we were sailing to our first cave.  We were surrounded by 000's of islands rising from the clear emerald waters for as far as the eye could see, this was undoubtedly the greatest view either of us had ever seen.  The boat continued through these waters for a few hours before we arrived at the 'Surprising Cave'.  The weather had turned a little misty now but the views were still great.
We spent an hour going through this very large cave with an English speaking tour guide this time.  There were plenty of images that could be seen in the rocks if you used your imagination, sadly I could see very few of these even with Bev pointing them out.
We reboarded the boat and cruised round the islands for another couple of hours stopping off at a lovely beach for a swim.  I spent the next hour diving off the roof of the boat with an English guy (Ross) and 3 Aussie guys (Ben, Simon, Shawn).  Bev was swimming around with a nice Aussie lady (Judy).  By this time it was starting to get dark and dinner was almost ready. We moored up at a spot between some islands where there were about 12 other boats all moored.
Dinner was mainly sea food based again but there was also plenty of chicken, rice and vegetables.  We had decided to sit with Judy and her husband to avoid the Americans.
After dinner we sat up top with our new friends till about 11.30pm drinking the local booze they had on board.  One thing we all found rather amusing was that there were 4 small row boats going in between all the moored boats trying to sell you Pringles and Oreos.  There we were miles from the main land with the most breath taking sun set, only to have it ruined by these ladies shouting up to us 'You buy Pringle, You buy Pringle now!'
The next day we arrived at the biggest island in Halong bay for a morning of cycling. Bev is now starting to like cycling, we got onboard our bikes and set off exploring the island.  We cycled through a very primitive village that was very interesting to see how these people live.  No electricity and all the farming is done by water buffalo.  The only western items to be seen where more bloody pringles for sale!
We all stopped for a drink and parked our bikes, the humidity was incredible so all were very sweaty by now, the next part of our trip was on foot and through rain forest like conditions.  Our guide then decided to tell us that on this island they had bears, cobras and poisonous spiders, not sure we would have got off the boat had we known that!
We trekked along for a while with our guide at the back.  He called us all back to where he was and asked us all to look up.  We had just walked under the biggest cobweb I have ever seen, it was crossing the path overhead and must have been 10 ft wide!!!  We then saw what had created this monster web, it was a monster, very poisonous spider and it was at least as big as my hand!!!  Everyone decided to move on quickly and paid no interest to the stick insects that were all around us.  We found another very old cave that we explored by the tour guides shit torch.  I was not enjoying myself as Ross kept tickling my neck with a branch, I was convinced giant spiders were falling on me in this pitch black cave.  

We left the cave and headed back to our bikes.  We had to cross under the spiders web again, the spider had now moved and was sitting in the middle of its web across the path.  Everyone walked under it keeping a close eye on it.  As Bev went under, it decided to sprint across its web back to the tree, Bev screamed and ran out of sight leaving me to cross under the web on my own (at this point I wish you were there mum!)  I crossed under and decided to pick up a branch and would spend the rest of the journey tickling Bevs neck in revenge for leaving me to face the beast!

Now back on board we set cruise for a valley where we would spend the afternoon kayaking.  We went to Monkey Island but much to Bevs disappointment we saw no monkeys!  2 hours later and now quite tired after the cycling and kayaking we stopped for a swim off a small island on our way to our hotel.  We look over at the beach only to see 5 or 6 monkeys sitting there with some tourists.  We dive off the boat and swim for island for a closer look.  As we start getting a little closer to the beach we see some stupid American getting quite close to one of the babies.  The large monkey decides to chase him into the sea which was very funny!  What was not so funny was his even stupider friend who went to rescue him kicked the large monkey, it jumped up and bit him on the arm.  They were soon heading off down the beach to find a rabbies jab!  We got to the beach but kept our distance, Bevs monkey finding mission had been achieved!

Back on board the boat we finished our journey to our hotel where we had a pretty crap dinner.  We then went out on the local town with the other Aussies we had met (Torie, Gabrielle, Scott, Makka, Jay and Kylie) to sample more local drinks.

It was a early rise the next morning as we had to head all the way back.  This was about a 4 hour boat trip followed by the 3.5 hour bus ride.

We arrived back at our hostel at 4pm and had agreed to meet everyone at 6.30pm for dinner and drinks at a near by restaurant.  We had a lovely meal and then hit the streets of Hanoi where I was brought many many drinks as it was my birthday the next day!  

The next morning we awoke feeling a little worse for wear but had to pull ourselves out of bed as we were meeting a few of our friends to go and visit the local dog market.  After much searching we never found it, probably a good thing!!!  We spent the rest of my birthday chilling out and watching films as we had spent the day before over celebrating.

Today its raining!!!  Still hot and humid but plenty of rain!  We head off tonight down south for the city of Hue!

We are having great difficulty up loading photos so are only putting a few on, we will upload more once we find a decent internet connection!

Hopefully Hue will be as enjoyable as Hanoi as we have enjoyed our time in the capital and met some good people who we shall be meeting latter in our trip.

You all be pleased to know its raining in Hue aswell!  

Love to all and good luck to Arsenal tonight!!!
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