Friday, 21 December 2012
Ha Long Bay - 3 days Left in paradise.
“Morning everyone rise and shine it’s half past 3 in the morning” Cassidy screamed.
“LEAVE ME ALONE” “GO AWAY!!!!” everyone else yelled across the sleeper train.
Trudging out of our bunks, hitting our heads we tried to open our cabin door. The door handle had fallen off and the sheet we had put up as our door was stuck in the door because a stupid person had slammed the door locking it shut. Yippee what a great way to start the morning off. Cassidy, Glen, Alison, Alice, Jayden and myself all tried to break open the door finally Cassidy flung open the door. Last night everyone was busting for the toilet the girls found out it was a squatter so the girls who were prepared used there she-wee’s (Cassidy slapped Ellis over the face with her she-wee...a new experience happens every day :-)).
Tired and hungry, Challengers got off the train looking forward to the R & R ahead and excited to explore Ha Long Bay later today. Pre arranged transport had arrived to take us back to the Backpackers hotel in Hanoi. All of us desperate to get clean, we quietly went upstairs to the 5th floor chill out space where we grabbed our stuff and headed to the shower. Everyone had to have a shower and put on clean clothes because the stench of us would put anyone off. Afterwards, we packed and got our bags into storage just keeping everything we would need for the bus ride, on the boat and toiletries in our day bags.
Packed and sorted for a 6:30am breakfast downstairs with a budget 150.000 Dong, most got big breakfast still tired but happy we had food in our tummies. At 8am we met our guide ‘Lucky’ who would be our tour guide for the bus trip and on the boat. Alice, MS and MJ had all planned the R & R activities, so only they and Lucky knew what was install for us!
The bus journey was 4 hrs but as we were all tired it was easy to get some sleep. Unfortunately Jared, after being designated to bring the world challenge duffle bag which has all the team gear and first aid kits, of course forgot it. Luckily Miss Posener remembered before we had gotten too far. So being calm and collected, as we had learned to be throughout this trip , we rang the hotel. Lucky talked on the phone for us and got a taxi to bring it to us when we stopped at a souvenir shop along the way. (Never leave anything important and valuable in Jared or Sam’s possession! ;-)).
After Lucky’s long speech on Vietnam and Ha Long Bay (spoken in very good English but interesting pronunciation of sounds), most of us slept, listened to music or drifted off into the clouds. Unfortunately, it was not a very good day for weather. Mist and fog covered the sky and hills! When we arrived we loaded our gear into a small tender that took our group to our tour boat in two short trips. We had an amazing lunch (although the vegetarians complained that there was not that much variety), while the rest of us carnivores tucked into some exceptional seafood including fresh squid, fish, prawns and more. We then visited a cave called Surprise Cave, the biggest in Ha Long Bay. We sailed through the limestone Islands and while the mist and fog stopped us from seeing them properly, it was still an eerily calm and beautiful place to see. Despite the weather, we went to Tip Top Island and some of us climbed to the top of the island to check out the view while others played Volleyball and had a swim (freezing!!!). We then returned to the main boat to have warm showers (yay - hot water and nice bathrooms!!!)
Before dinner we had a cooking lesson with the apparently multi-skilled Lucky, where we prepared and made spring rolls to have with our dinner. They we very tasty! After dinner there were activities such as fishing and karaoke. The girls all had a ‘mocktail’ (non-alcoholic cocktail) while the boys went fishing. Then we joined for karaoke that was so much fun that no one could resist joining in. We all wrote our messages to send to our families, and then tired and all sung out, we went to bed.
Bright and early we had breakfast at 7:30. The weather for the day improved, even the sun came out encouraging some of us up onto the sun deck to sun bake, take pictures and enjoy the peacefulness. The boat travelled back to the bay where we had a big lunch said goodbye and travelled back to Hanoi. Lucky returned us to the Backpackers Hotel sorted out our rooms realising it was really our last day together as a team but ready for home. Went to Gecko’s for tea/dinner where I am writing this after everyone has eaten we will be heading to the night markets bargaining for our last gifts and presents then returning to the hotel having a shower, packing our bags for our trip home.
Can’t wait to get home, but sad that I will be leaving my friends that have become my other family. (I am giving everyone a hug I don’t care if they don’t like hugs I am giving them a hug) I know I will see some of them at school next year but the weird conversations and company of them always being there for you would not be the same. I am going to miss everyone dreadfully, I know I will especially miss the boys (I know that’s weird) that has helped me when I needed help and have made this adventure even more fun. The teachers that have become a second mum to us on the trip, always giving you great advice. The girls that have become big sisters to me offering there help and support through tough times. (Ed. What about me :-))
I am going to miss everyone! Only 2 days left!!!!
Lots of love always from the team and me