Cat Cat village. Perfectly normal to see a small boy herding water buffalo down the cobbled path.
The lovely people who have cooked our dinner these past two nights as per the pic of R below. They do not speak much English and expect us back “nux year” for more “now meat”.
Sa Pa, land of views and flowers. Enough red geraniums to satisfy even me. I didn’t take any photos with the phone of our trek today but it was quite an experience.
1 Tales of Ha Long Bay (drafted as we transfer back to Ha Noi on Monday)
Ha Long Bay was just one of those places that nothing could have prepared me for. Yes it’s a multimillion dollar industry but it is exquisite. By far and away the most amazing part was the kayaking through the floating village. These kids go to school there as well, they just don’t go to the mainland for anything. They have dogs too and the children play with them like any other kid with a family pet.
The most relaxing thing was five of us knocking over a bottle of Tanq 10 on the top deck of our junk watching the sunset. We reconvened after dinner and continued well into the night.
I must say though, be a bit careful of tour staff. The workers were all lovely but our tour guide/leader in his fake designer shirt and suit pants was a CLB. When we stopped at Titop Island we left our cameras etc with him while we swam. He didn’t notice me get out of the water and come back so he didn’t realise I was watching him use my 55-200 lens to perve on women; tourists and locals alike. In particular he liked the woman with the ice cream trolley as when anyone leans in to get an ice cream their bum is in the air. He also invited himself to peruse my photos and it was obvious when he got to the ones from the gala dinner. Serves him right.
I sincerely regret not humiliating him in front of the other travellers on our junk but at the time all I could think was “I have to spend the evening on a confined boat with this creep and R may get quite angry with him if he does anything”
Also hilarious and confirming him as a CLB, he insisted that as F, N and I (the girls in our group) got back on the junk from the tender (transfer boat) he needed the hotel towels back RIGHT THEN before we got changed (we were in bikinis with the towels wrapped around us) but funnily enough the fat 50-something German lady was not subjected to the same rule. But then, you would definitely not want to argue with her.
He backed off on the creep routine after that because N, a very assertive lady, announced quite loudly “well he only had to be patient, I’m going to go lie on the sundeck now and that would be a much easier perve”
2 Lao Cai
This is where the train from Ha Noi gets in at about 5am. At 5am I am dopey.
So when a skinny Vietnamese guy came onto the train (R had made it to the platform) and asked “minibus Sapa?” I STUPIDLY said yes (don’t judge me - tripadvisor said you take a minibus)
Long story short, they weren’t at all dangerous but they were dodgy “cheeky” (as dubbed by our Brit co-conned travellers) types who were trying to double dip with both tourists and locals.
They charged double what I later read was the going rate and had us sitting there til nearly 6:30 when R, the Brit guy and I went to find them only to discover them ordering breakfast.
So R became assertive and a driver came back to the van.
Driver sits in van, engine running going nowhere. R becomes assertive again.
Driver begins driving at (and I mean no exaggeration by this) 2km/hr - pedestrians were going through the car park faster. R *and* L become assertive wanting money back.
Driver exits car park, makes agitated phone call and we circle the perimeter of the car park up toward the street vendors where the other scammers were eating breakfast. Man in black tshirt, (owner we suspect) porky for a Vietnamese man, approaches gesturing wildly at me. I tell R “I’ve got this”.
He flings open van door and starts abusing me (female = soft target ha!) and announcing what seemed to mean I get off and take “him” with me. I stand up, and it begins.
“Give me my money back.”
Shouty voice starts here: MONEY BACK NOW
It went back and forth, R let me handle it. The words “you are a small pathetic criminal” were shouted. Porky man bawled his fists and I stood up as straight as I could in a Ford Transit, glared down at him and bawled mine. Porky man decided he would not escalate the situation further. He snapped something at the driver and slammed the door.
We then had rather a quiet 38km journey to Sa Pa (if slightly round about as the driver picked up a few locals who seemed to be doing a regular commute earlier than usual…) as I think the driver was scared of me.
Angry white woman wins.
Ha Long Bay. We’re about to transfer back to Ha Noi and catch the train to Sapa overnight. Best bit of Ha Long was the self paddled visit to the floating village but it’s all pretty spectacular.
So this is Bear Beer. Just sayin. Less than $2 a can.
Close your ears mother but today we hired a motorcycle and buzzed about Ha Noi.
We followed a couple of taxis (on the car-only lane of the bridge…) of conference people and visited the orphanage to which the conference donated funds raised from all the silly social activities incl “fines” for stupid behaviour… like accidentally activating Siri in an otherwise silent ballroom by flicking my phone in agitation after someone exceedingly senior made a comment about “wives” or getting your chest waxed just because another guy dared you to…
So I have no photos of the place on my phone and only one portrait of a little girl on my camera. I didn’t think it was appropriate to treat these kids like an exhibit. I bawled for most of it but especially for the little room of about 10 HIV +ve kids where the girl was.
The next time some arrogant nosey bastard decides to have a crack about my childless status I’m going to tell them that I regularly donate money, and hopefully time once a year, to an orphanage in Vietnam and I think that 120 kids is enough.
Blast from the past. The band (The Associatives) are from Brisso but the drummer and lead guitar on the left are one half of Platform 6.
They did covers at the RE when I was in uni and as a first year I’d go watch them most Fridays. I still have a downloaded copy of their original songs. I remember the words.
They were pretty shocked I knew them but then, it may just be my outrageous attire…
How much can one man swear? Quite a lot actually.
It’s a very long story but essentially 3 of us ended up at Thu Spa which was held open especially for us to watch the Alpha Male lose his fur.
L and I indulged in massages, foot treatments and manicures while Thu herself spent an hour ripping hair off the hairiest chest she’d ever seen.
At least his plunging neckline on his costume for the gala dinner tonight will look lovely…
Lunch in the Old Quarter for AU$5 including the drinks. Cooked by the fellow behind R and delicious.
Off on the “wives” tour yesterday. We’re officially called “spouses/partners” but on the first night someone exceedingly senior made a comment *on the microphone during the official welcome* about how much shopping the “wives” would do.
So along with my 20 fellow wives (6 of which were men and 3 of which were children) we went to a cooking class with “Hanoi’s masterchef” which included a deep fried banana for dessert. And then a tour of the city cut short due to unfit wives not coping with the heat.
I did see the 1000+ year old Confucian temple (pictured) and the Ho Chi Minh museum. I’d like to get to the mausoleum but I’ll wait for R to be with me for that.