Tours can be fun...Really.
Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
38Trip End Jul 23, 2004
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This in mind, it was with some concern that we boarded the bus to Halong Bay, a coastline of karst limestone formations similar to the ones we saw at Tam Coc, except on a much larger scale
After a night on the boat, we headed toward Cat Ba Island through a different section of karsts. Most of the karsts are too steep to be habitable, so our boat seemed very isolated from civilization, a feeling compounded by the heavy morning fog and the communal hangover. We checked into the hotel on Cat Ba and then headed by boat to explore a cave on the opposite side of the island and visit some prawn farms. Just for the record, prawn farms aren't really visually interesting because, unlike cows or buffalo, prawns graze underwater. This means that a visit to a prawn farm is a lot like visiting, say, a large square of brown water that someone assures you has a huge number of things living in it. I won't say it was a waste of time, but "visit prawn farm" wasn't on the "Things To Do Before I Die" list. We did follow up the prawn farm visit by going to Monkey Island, which was considerably more entertaining, especially when one of the monkeys jumped onto our boat and stole our lunch bananas, and then proudly swam back to shore with his bounty only to be rugby-tackled by about 50 other monkeys
After dinner, we learned a new darts game from an English guy, called Killer (clarification: the game was called Killer; the English guy was called Phil). Although it didn't sound like an official rule, it eventually incorporated an increasingly large amount of beer drinking. Anyone who thinks that copious amounts of beer and needle-sharp projectiles aren't a good mix is missing out on quite an experience. This game alone may explain the increasing popularity of nose piercings in England.
The next day we sailed again through the bay, and then headed back to Hanoi by bus. Some in our group left for other cities by bus when we got back; those of us remaining met for dinner and a brief tour of Hanoi's (one street of) hotspots. After this whirlwind, Phil and I had just enough time for some sleep, a flurry of throwing our junk randomly into backpacks, and rushing to the airport for our flight to Vientiane...