23.10.2011 - 04.11.2011
the booze cruise through ha long bay was amazing.
beautiful scenery - over 3,000 limestone islands reaching out of jade-green water, full of caves, not a wave in sight, but a constant flow of other tourist boats and the local floating villagers. Apparently a few generations ago the fishermen had a dispute with the farmers - the farmers were charging them too much rent so they all moved into floating houses in the bay. As time passed, the villagers started to believe that if they ever touched land on the mainland, their ancestors would be pissed at them for going back, so the majority of people we saw in the villages had never touched the mainland. They had floating villages, schools, markets, and even a floating hospital
We spent the first night on the boat. It was styled like a chinese junk, with a big eating area, beds for 30 tourists and a sunbathing deck upstairs, and was named The Jolly Roger. Everybody in the group was amazing, there was about 30 of us in total. It was our tour guide's last ever tour, and after a year and a half of two tours each week, every week, there was a lot of celebrating to be done!
Waking up at 7am wasn't pleasant, but the breakfast made up for it. We were dropped off at castaway island, the company's private island. That day I kayaked across the water to another island, did rock climbing, kayaked back and got dragged on an inflatable lilo behind a speed boat, played badmington and volleyball on the beach, and then another night of drinking games and a lot of nakedness...
After a couple days of rest (we took a private room at the hostel for 2 nights of absolute luxury) we headed to phong nha farmstay in central vietnam. That was so cool - we stayed in a dorm there and met 4 guys, and 2 people from ha long bay caught up with us there. We rode around the nearby national park in an old american war jeep with no roof (it even had a siren), which was SICK! went to a couple of caves and beaches and things and generally just chilled out.
We then all got a bus to hue via the DeMilitarised Zone (DMZ) where we saw some more war museums and tunnels. Spent a few days in Hue, which is a cool little town. We walked around the town, an old citadel, had a couple of good nights out etc. Both nights we ate at the same place - a french restaurant called la carambole. Both nights i ordered the same thing, which was recommended to me - a MAHUSIVE fillet steak, literally the size of my fist. cooked to perfection, the first night i had it with mushroom sauce and chips, second night i had mustard sauce and mash. Beautiful. It cost 160,000 vietnamese dong (VND) which equates to five pounds - expensive for my travelling budget but cheap compared to back home and sometimes you have to treat yourself!