22.02.2012 - 23.02.2012 19 °C
So beautiful. Although luck wasn't on our side with the weather - it was very foggy - reducing visibility drastically. It also gave the bay a wonderful mystic and serene calm.
We took an overnight cruise on a converted barge through the bay. The barge was very nicely remodeled, it was like staying in a 3/4 star hotel. Elaborate seafood lunch and dinner was included the first night, breakfast and another lunch the next day as well.
We walked through a massive limestone cave system with stalagmites and stalactites and took a beautiful sunset Kayak tour which led us into a lagoon. A perfectly quiet setting was only disturbed by the sounds of birds and bats chirping.
After dinner and a mini pre-birthday celebration for Sam, we headed to the deck for a game (or lesson in my case) in Texas Hold'em.
Our only disappointment was the pollution of the bay. You would think that with the amount of tourism they get for being a beautiful world heritage site, and major source of food, they would take care of it better. We even saw syringes float by while fishing for squid at night. Syringes! Ugh.
On our way back to Hanoi (a bumpy 4hr drive) our bus was pulled over as a random spot-check by police - a nice reminder of where we were, just in case we had forgotten while out on the bay . The bus driver dealt with it, but our guide would not entertain us with the what/why/how of it all. Big brother is always watching and listening.
This will be our last night as part of the tour, and I'm sure I can speak for all of us, that this has been an incredible, memorable journey. But it wouldn't have been as awesome if it hadn't been for this fun and randomly, but perfectly, assembled group. It's the people you travel with that always make a trip stand out, and you know when you can still stand each other by the end of it, it must've been phenomenal. We ate good food and food that made us homesick. We braved public transportation, public bathrooms, and some smells that we hope to forget. Not one of us escaped the wrath of disease! If it wasn't a hacking cough, a terrible cold, pneumonia, or the D-word that rhymes with rhea, then it was the hangover from the night before that got us. But we smiled and laughed through it all, and those will be the memories we'll recite boldly.
Last but not least, a major shout out goes to our fearless leader, Pooky! With a voice as dainty as a shrieking crane, no one could have made this trip run more smoothly than her. Who tells you to look out for lady-boys in every club and pub? Pooky. Who wakes your ass up extra early every morning cuz she knows you're going to be slow from that hangover? Pooky. Who makes the bartender smell the bottle of vodka and then the glass to prove a point? Pooky. Damn straight, she's the ish!
Tomorrow we're off to Phuket while the rest of the group enjoys a final dinner in Bangkok. After 2 weeks of vacation, I'm happy to say that I can't wait for some much needed R&R!