A Halong Bay Birthday
To give you an insight into how far behind I am with blog posts... my birthday is the 5th of June. I have recently made a blogging schedule, but my current holiday in France has completely messed all chances of that up. I'm trying I swear.
I decided I wanted to spend my birthday in Halong Bay, a place I thought would be one of the best in Vietnam. The islands themselves were absolutely beautiful, I would just advise anybody planning a trip here to splash out a bit on the tour, therefore hopefully avoiding the unorganised mess of a trip we were on. As I'm sure you've all noticed by now, nothing was smooth sailing during our trip, but I did have a wonderful birthday in an amazing part of the world.
The confusion started when we were picked up by our bus in Hanoi. Once on the bus we were asked to write down our names, ages, nationality etc., which is normal protocol for booked bus companies out there. Then, a Vietnamese guy named 'Circus' stood up with a microphone and it became clear he was the tour guide. He began to introduce everybody one by one in his broken English, attempt jokes, and give us all Vietnamese lessons. We had booked the bus through our hotel in Hanoi, there was never any mention of it being a tour bus and we were becoming very confused as the time went on. Circus then proceeded to talk about the day plan of the boat trip, including kayaking, stargazing and sleeping on board the boat. We weren't supposed to be on this tour. Were we on the wrong bus? Were all these people going on a Halong Bay tour today? Should we tell somebody or just wait and see what happens? ... long story short, we were kicked off just before Halong Bay and had to get a taxi to our hotel because the Hanoi hotel had booked us on a bus for a boat tour.
That day we hung around our hotel and checked out the town a little bit, but because early June still isn't tourist season, it was absolutely dead. Seriously, the place looked post apocalyptic. The only thing to do was the cable car and the one time we walked up to it, you guessed it...it was shut. Luckily, we had been treated to a nice hotel for my birthday, so that night we swam in the pool and got an awesome buffet dinner.
The next morning I woke up to my boyfriend singing Happy Birthday and an amazing buffet breakfast, which included pancakes. We had booked our Halong Bay boat tour to pick us up from the hotel that morning, so a bus took us to the harbour. The bus driver was face timing his wife while we were all on board, but ya know, that's Vietnam for you. The harbour was bustling and had a live band playing in the centre. Boats were so tightly packed in that our one took a full 10 minutes to make itself a space amongst them. Once it did find a space, we were on squished on like sardines, but things were a lot better once we had set off and were allowed on the sun deck. Now I shouldn't be completely negative about the boat as the sun deck was lovely, lunch was amazing, and it took us everywhere we needed to go around the bay. However, it was completely disorganised (yelling at people who weren't aware kayaking was an activity that required extra payment) and took us to some awful tourist traps (a pretty rubbish cave and a man made beach, however I did quite like swimming in the bay). The best part of the day was definitely kayaking through a cave and into a clearing in the middle of one of the islands. For me, that was one of those 'wow' moments that reminds you how amazing travelling is, even though we were the last ones to kayak back and nearly got left behind by the boat.
The islands in the bay are all given ridiculous names based on what they supposedly look like, for example "kissing chickens", but they are beautiful to see despite that.
|Here are the "kissing chickens"|
Now, one especially ridiculous yet hilarious thing happened on this boat trip which I will never ever forget. There was a Chinese group on the tour which consisted of around seven people. Two of which were women aged around twenty who had a karaoke microphone. About an hour into the tour, they decided to play their own music through the speaker, which is pretty annoying and rude, I mean not everybody on this boat wants to hear your music playing. But it gets worst. They the proceed to sing along to these Chinese belters at full volume with absolutely NO shame, none at all. Oh my god, it was one of the weirdest things I have ever experienced, I was wondering whether or not to request Happy Birthday. It was god awful singing and whenever you would look at them in confusion, they would stare right back at you without stopping. The only break we had the whole time on the boat would be when they swapped turns to sing and tried to find a another song they knew all the words to. We were sat with another couple when they chose a new song and we all started to giggling away, unable to contain our laughter from the absurdity of the situation. Our giggling was obviously disgusting behaviour to the father of the group, who must think his girls are the best singers to grace the Earth, as he then proceeded to death stare us. I still can't believe nobody said anything to them, but by the end of the day everybody found it absolutely hilarious.
After our crazy boat trip, we returned to our lovely hotel for a HUGE buffet dinner. Where, we ate a bit of every meal and desert available, including an array of sushi and the best beef casserole I have ever had. Then, after quite a few Tequila Sunrises on my part, we went upstairs to admire our view of the lights by the bay. I went to bed extremely happy, even without a birthday cake and slept like a 19 year old baby after a crazy long day.