Real World: Ha Long Bay
10:00 a.m. - Speedboat full of people, okay. This could be great, weather aside.
10:50 a.m. - THIS is it? But why are there only 25 of us? Where are all the other people on that last speedboat going? F*ck.
11:47 a.m. - Oh god. We brought ZERO snacks for this two night, three day trip on a private island. Where there is apparently no wifi or electricity. What a massive mistake. How will we constantly eat and enjoy our time?
12:02 p.m. - Made new friend. Name is Jess. She is Aussie. Pretty rad. Offered to braid me a bracelet = many friend points.
12:30 p.m. - FOOD. French fries, cucumbers, traditional rice, octopus, chicken, rofu, cabbage (yum), and the holy grail of condiments: sweet chili sauce. Thank you.
12:51 p.m. - *insider tip* back of the boat is always warmer than the middle or front.
1:25 p.m. - Just woke up from a snooze on the top of the boat. Tray and Jess went to the group meeting (whoops) and brought back free rice wine for all!
3:04 p.m. - We went kayaking! Not Tracey's strong suite, she really hated it. Complained about salt water the whole time. But it was still a great time. I kayaked us around (she occasionally helped while I enjoyed some rice wine). Great bonding time - and an opportunity to finally work out.
3:25 p.m. - "I can promise you he will make it over there." said Viet our guide about a little dog swimming across the bay to...somewhere?
4:45 p.m. - We've arrived alive and well. But where are all the people?
5:31 p.m. - Private bungalow?! Thank goodness we signed up for the two-night tour. *Smirks at the rest of the group in the dorm room*. There are 5 of us; Jess, Tracey, me and two guys. Our three days together was full of some of the most intelligent, open minded conversations I've had this entire trip (or longer)!
5:56 p.m. - Political talk. And lots of it. No complaining here.
6:24 p.m. - We've rejoined the group, got a pitcher of rice wine again. This time it's blue, much fancy.
7:25 p.m. - Appetizers are a big thing here. BBQ oysters, giant shrimp, green pumpkin, more french fries, and once again sweet chili sauce to top it off.
8:30 a.m. - Viet came to wake us up for breakfast...we almost missed it because sleep is life.
9:07 a.m. - Pool with Tracey. We WILL get better.
9:30 a.m. - Time for a hike to the view point. Climbing up rocks, through trees and on top of sharp boulders.
10:26 a.m. - Making our way down and naturally I fell. Slipped on the dirt, hurt my arm, but thank god I was holding something so I didn't slide all the way down! Viet made jokes - such a helpful guide.
11:30 a.m. - Lunch time (my fav). Tracey fed the ADORABLE puppies some chicken bones. We got weird looks from everyone, so we eventually snatched them back, poor pups.
12:31 p.m. - More roomie talks. Topics include; Blackfish, animal cruelty, where to draw the line on limited diets (ie. why are dolphins not ok to eat, but pigs are?) Apparently GMO's aren't bad according to our Canadian friend, I'll need to research that...
3:00 p.m. - Just woke up from a nap. Everyone is passed out. But didn't we have plans? Maybe a hike with Viet to Sunset Beach?
3:50 p.m. - We found Viet! His boat broke down in the bay...the hike is canceled. Now we travel in style, by tiny boat.
4:30 p.m. - Found some beautiful light on the other side of the island. Fading sunset in the mist. Viet tells us "we tried to capture a goat from this neighboring island one, we succeeded." Now there is a sign on it to leave them alone!
6:00 p.m. - Here are all the people. 60 new people to be exact.
6:15 p.m - turns out there are 25 American university students here now. Oh how I miss those days. But damn do they make me feel old.
6:30 p.m. - Dinner. And lots of it. This trip has been worth the massive amounts of food alone.
6:45 p.m. - Viet revealed he is a professional badminton player. How much cooler can he get?
6:57 p.m. - They keep bringing us free rice wine. Sign me up. This stuff tastes like water now.
7:00 p.m. - MOT, HI, BA, YO! (Vietnamese "1, 2, 3 Cheers!")
7:30 p.m. - The party has started. We made fools of ourselves, but I'm also so proud of us.
8:00 a.m. - Tracey's sick. This isn't good. I assume it's because of the rice wine, homemade batches can cause sickness *insider tip*. Regardless of what it's from, no Cat Ba Hike today, I'll stay with her of course. We'll leave at the 12:30 p.m. bus instead.
9:30 a.m. - Bye to our three cabin mates! We'll find Jess later. But Viet is very sad. I can't leave her though. Not in her hour of need. It's called friendship people. Travel doesn't change that.
10:24 a.m. - Journaling, reading, listening to my Music & Chill playlist with waves crashing 20 feet away. I'm not mad.
11:30 a.m. - Headed in to the main bar for lunch. It was GREAT. Met the new guides who are average travelers with this gig, how lucky. Where do I get one?
12:30 p.m. - Off to Cat Ba to make our way to Ninh Binh.
2:00 p.m. - We found Jess! Back together again. What a trip.