• Tara B. Vasi

Day 17: Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. October 30th. Ha Long Bay Boat Ride, Caves, Kayak, soccer, phone nick

I’ve come to really enjoy being woken up by Vietnamese opera music, even if it is at 4:00am in the morning. We land, park, stop, at the train station in Hanoi and immediately get on the bus to head to Ha Long Bay for the night. The ride is 4 hours. We stop at a rest area half way and I befriend a little lady stray and feed her some of my cereal popcorn. She has an infected boob and I want so badly to take care of her and make sure she is warm and loved for for the rest of her life.

We all sit down for breakfast at the restaurant in the rest area. I see Weasel Coffee and I ask the lady what this is. I have heard of Luwak Coffee and I am wondering if it is the same idea. Yup, sure is. They feel the weasels the coffee beans and then the weasels poop them out. They wash the beans and POOF! Weasel Shit Coffee. I do not order Weasel coffee, but I get a small bag for my brother is law who loves shit like that. (See what I did there?)

I don’t eat breakfast at the table, but buy a mango and ask a nice lady to cut it up for me.

We get to Ha Long Bay and the place is packed with tour buses and Chinese tourists. Like Whoa peeps simmer! They are incredibly pushy.

We weave through tables and tables of flip flops, purses, and souvinears and come to our ferry. There are no plastic single use bottles along on Ha Long bay, as a way to preserve the areas beauty and to help save the environment.

They want to serve us lunch right away, which is fine by me because all I have had was coffee and mango. They direct the vegetarians to the left tables and the “normal people” to the right tables. I go left with the freaks.

We are served boiled jicama. If ‘nothing’ had a flavor it would be boiled jicama. We are also served French fries, spicy jicama and tomato salad, vegetable spring rolls, plain tofu, noodles with vegetables, rice cakes made with coconut milk, and morning glory. The dishes kept coming and coming. I filled up on jicama, spring rolls, and rice cakes thinking that was the end of the food train. Live and learn, Tara, Live and learn.

After lunch we went to the upper deck and enjoyed the view. We were now in the middle of Ha Long Bay. There are two rocks in the middle of the bay, that are a fixture to the bay itself. There are a lot of ferries on the water and each one takes turns getting close to the rocks so the passengers can take pictures. Our boat cruises up and out of no where another ferry fucking HITS US!!! We joke and wonder how a Chinese tourist got its hands on a ferry boat!

Next stop, the caves. We cruise towards a bay within the bay (?) and jump off the ferry. Our guide leads up twenty five million stairs until we arrive at the entrance of the caves. We wander around craning our necks to look up and all around.

The cave is huge, but I get claustrophobic, over heated, and my breathing constricts. I find my way out and chill until the group is done. They exit another way and after a while I decide that its probably better to go back down to the ferry. They are all on the ferry and about to leave without me. I say “thanks assholes I didn’t realize I was so forgettable.” They weren’t really going to leave without me, so they say.

We cruise more and stop to kayak through more caves and in a bay within a bay (?). I don’t have a water proof case, but I connect the ring on the back of my phone to the string of my halter top and my phone safely dangles by my chest. Bryony and I are teamed up in the Kayak. I tell her, if it feels like I am not doing any work, its because I am not. Just kidding. The stupid boys splashed everyone with their paddles, and I threaten WW3 on the mo’fo’s if they capsize our kayak. There was no WW3, but some people were reaaaaally upset about being splashed… cough cough Ali… the non swimmer.

We finish the Ha Long bay tour around 4:30pm and head back to the hotel. The hotel is pretty nice! The nicest place we have stayed so far. Its stardard to have the nicest accommodations, just like the nicest buses, the shorter the stay or the shorter the drive. Definitely still grateful for the space and the cleanliness and the large HOT shower! I actually shave my legs and wash my hair. Its like a miracle for all that are around me.

A group of us decide to play SOCCER!!! So we rent a ‘pitch’ or a soccer field for an hour. Like, $2 a person. Only half of the group is interest. Even though I am full blown exhausted from the 4am Vietnamese Opera wake up call and the day in the sun, I definitely do not turn down running around and playing one of my favorite sports of all time. I haven’t played soccer since high school! (Well, maybe a few times here and there since then, but nothing serious).

Cue inappropriate shirts and skins jokes here….

We all had so much fun! I did pretty well too and the team complimented my skills. I scored a few goals and got many many assists. Im all about taking it down the wing and crossing it to my homies in the center. It felt so good to play again! I am still a feisty little energizer bunny. One of my goals was like a slide tackle into the lower left of the goal. And they cheered and they cheered.

We all worked up quite the appetite and decided to go to an Italian restaurant. Let me tell you, and I don’t want to disrespect my heritage here, but Vietnamese people cook amazing Italian food. I got veggie lasagna. I would have taken a picture but it literally looked like a bowl of cheese from the outside. The veggie were hiding. I don’t think they used ricotta.

After the Italian, I hit a huge wall and had to go go, like immediately… I was supposed to have a conference call with Kimberly about Sri Lanka, but we were still coordinating time. She was in Italy. I was in Vietnam.

Lara and I hailed a cab outside of the restaurant. I told him where we are going but he was not picking up what I was putting down. I inputted the hotel in my maps app and handed it to him to follow. We get to the hotel and Lara and I collect 50 dong between us and exit the taxi. Lara goes right upstairs to bed, but I stay and talk to Sochea for a second in the lobby. At that point I realize, I LEFT MY PHONE WITH THE CABBIE !

I reasonably freak out. I need my phone. Holy crap. How could I have done that?

How am I supposed to get it back? I have no idea what the guys name was, what the taxi company’s name was, nothing. The only way I’d get it back, is if he came back and gave me the phone himself.

Sochea and I go to the front desk. I tell them all I remember is that the taxi was green. They say they have cameras and can look and see the number on the cab and look for me in my blue and white dress.

They find the cab and he comes back! But he wants money, a lot of money, in exchange for the phone. He was just holding my phone in the air, hostage to the situation.

He said I forgot it and it cost money for him to come back. He didnt have to come back. I said no no buddy you needed it and was using it and didnt give it back when I let. I offered him 50 dong and told him to give me back my fucking phone. The ladies at the reception are out and crowded around. The guys from the store next door began to crowd around. This is where Florian enters the scene like the Incredible Hulk and says, “Give her back her fucking phone, MAN.” The cabbie shits a brick. Florian pops his head into the taxi and grabs my phone from his hand. I drop the 50 dong in his car anyway, say, Thank you, and walk away. ($2) Florian is my hero. That could have been way worse.

I head up to our room and Bryony is sleeping. I decide I must end this day.


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