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The Traveling Lotus

Ha Long Bay and Seasickness

VIETNAM | Sunday, 6 October 2013 | Views [389]

On Saturday, we got up early and got ready to be picked up and taken to Ha Long Bay. We were the last to be picked up and squeezed in the back of a minivan. We stopped halfway for a long break, then finally made it to Ha Long harbor after a few hours. We got to our boat and got checked into our rooms. We were upgraded to deluxe rooms, which meant we had small balconies, but oddly, the toilet was in between the room and the balcony...and only a shower curtain separated the toilet from the rest of the room. Jackie didn't even have a key to her room because the previous guest had taken the key with them. We got our bags into our rooms, explored the boat, and sat down to lunch, which was actually quite good. We headed to Surprising Cave, which was an impressive cave (good pictures from my DSLR to come later; only uploading photos from my iPhone for now). The "surprise" was unsurprisingly phallic, nothing unique there. The rest of the cave was cool, though, so a worthwhile visit. Afterwards, we got into kayaks and explored a lagoon for a bit. Alison and I weren't very good at maneuvering the kayak, but got better by the end. We saw monkeys jumping around on one of the karsts; they were quite large and acrobatic. After kayaking, we headed back to the boat, and jumped into the water and swam for a bit. By this time, it was getting quite dark, so we went in to get ready for dinner. First, we made fresh spring rolls ourselves, then got ready to sit down for the main dinner. Luckily, we were with a group of really awesome Europeans (Brits, Germans, and Dutch) that we got along really well with, so we sat arranged by birthdays. I still ended up by Jackie, but was also sitting near a girl from England who works as an advisor for David Cameron; quite impressive! The meal was served in courses; they made unique shrimp cocktails decorated with tulips made from veggies, a plate of rice made to look like the Hoan Kiem Lake turtle, and fries with veggies cut out to say "I Love You." All very entertaining. After dinner, they gave up a cup of uncooked rice and one chopstick. They then instructed us to pick up the glass of rice using the one chopstick (and nothing else), without spilling the rice. We worked for awhile trying to figure it out, but couldn't. Finally the bartender showed us how. One guy was able to do it on his own, and Jackie and I were able to do it together, but not everyone could master it, even knowing the trick. I won't tell you the trick; see if you can figure it out yourselves! After dinner, the group hung out on the deck. Some of the braver souls did some karaoke for a bit, and then we all chatted until I headed to bed.

Unfortunately, that night turned out to be the worst night of the trip thus far. The a/c was freezing, and there was a terrible smell in the room. I thought it smelled like something had died in the room; Alison thought it was sewage; and we both agreed it smelled like rotten eggs whatever it was. Later, when I told the tour guide, he suggested perhaps a rat had been trapped somewhere on the ship. About 3am I couldn't handle it any longer and had to sit on the balcony for fresh air. I was planning on joining the yoga session at 6am, but couldn't do it as I ended up regurgitating everything in my stomach. Unfortunately, I felt awful for the rest of the day, as did Alison. I did manage to make the morning climb up Titop Island (400+ stairs) to see a beautiful view of Ha Long from above, and spent some time hanging in the water, but as soon as we had to return to the boat, I felt increasingly awful again. We all went up to the sun deck to cruise through the more famous parts of Ha Long Bay, but I couldn't keep myself upright long enough to enjoy the view or snap more than a couple poor photos. After that, I ended up not eating lunch at all. Luckily, I started feeling better as soon as we hit the land, even though we transferred to the van right away. Back in Hanoi, we got dropped off at the travel company's office and left our bags there while we did a little bit of shopping, got dinner, and had a foot massage. We caught a taxi to the train station, where we got to sit in a reasonably nice lounge while we waited to board the overnight train to Sapa. Once on the train, I pretty much immediately fell asleep as I was exhausted from having slept so little and having been sick all day long. So my first experience on an overnight train was quite uneventful!

Tags: boats, ha long bay, overnight cruise, seasickness, vietnam


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