Tuesday 28th November
Tuesday was a very lazy day. I was exhausted from walking around Hanoi the previous day so I spent the morning doing a bit of trip admin by planning my route a bit more. In the afternoon I explored a bit more of Hanoi before going on a street food tour in the evening.
The food tour was great despite me eating so much garlic and chilli I felt that my breath could melt anything afterwards.
There were just 4 of us on the tour, all British, and were were guided by a lovely girl called Windy. As well as taking us the the best local restaurants and introducing us to the local cuisine she also taught us some Vietnamese and told us her love stories. She confided in us that she is hopelessly in love with her gay best friend.
Wednesday 29th November
An early start to the day but luckily my jet lag is helping out with that. I was picked up at 7:30 to travel to Halong Bay. I had decided to splash out on quite an expensive cruise which my Mom kindly offered to pay for as my Christmas present. When we got to the boat it looked amazing and the room is one of the best I’ve ever stayed in. I even had my own hot tub.
I had wondered what it be like being a solo traveler on a cruise like this and I was pleasantly surprised. At lunch I sat at a table for 2 on my own until the crew asked if Heather, who was also travelling alone, could join me. She is from Tennessee and has even pinker hair than me. The crew loved both of our hair styles and commented that they would love to do the same. After lunch we all went kayaking around some of the islands before spending some time swimming in the sea.
Before dinner I met Danielle and Kjersti, a couple from North Carolina. I don’t know if they introduced themselves because I was on my own, because the spotted a fellow lesbian or because I had a mohawk but I’m glad they did. They were awesome but I was slightly envious of Danielle’s mohawk which looked way cooler than mine.
At dinner we all sat next to David and Justin who were there celebrating their honeymoon. The crew made a fuss over them as it was their honeymoon and I felt very lucky to have ended up on this boat. I had wondered how gay friendly this part of the world would be and so far my experience has been entirely positive.
Thursday 30th November
I got up early to watch the sun rise over Halong Bay… but it didn’t. Heather had also had the same plan so we sat and watched the world around us slowly become a lighter shade grey. Before breakfast we did tai chi on the deck and I can safely say that pretty much all of us were terrible at it but at least we all had a good laugh.
Most of the islands in Halong Bay have such steep sides that it is impossible to land on them but a few of them have small beaches so we visited one of these after lunch. Above the beach is a cave system full of stalagmites and stalactites which we explored, Lara Croft style. Ok, the Lara Croft style was all in my head but it was fun all the same. I didn’t understand when the guide explained the name of the island but I do remember that it is next to the boob shaped island. The guide looked like a naughty child as he told me that this island is in fact called boob island.
I spent a while swapping stories about our respective jobs with our guide, JD, whilst showing each other photos on our phones. Each of us saying that the other had the best job in the world. I don’t know if I would trade jobs with JD but if you throw in some more wildlife I would definitely be tempted.
On the way back to Hanoi we stopped at a small village to watch a water puppet show. I wasn’t sure what to expect. A friend had told me that I must see a show because it’s amazing and my Mum had told me not to bother because they are terrible. It was pretty awful.
I decided to rough it for a night back in Hanoi so I got the driver to drop me off at a hostel in the old quarter. I was pleasantly surprised with the standards and none of my roommates snored so I can’t complain.