Thursday, July 5, 2007

Honeymoon Volume II

June 18
The next day we dropped the other four shipmates off to explore a cave and we got on to another fairly large boat to go collect our kayaks. The other 4 were only staying one night and we stayed for two. Oh I forgot to mention that the night before we all took our time at dinner and ordered lots of wine and then the ship people gave us a cake that said "Happy Honeymoon" and flowers. The bouquet was nice, but I had nowhere to put it, and no desire to drag it around with me. The cake was actually very tasty, I'm usually not a fan of store bought cake but I guess they do a good job in Vietnam. It was lemony and the frosting was light and tasty. They also had very good coffee on the boat. I'm not a big coffee drinker, but this tasted so good I definitely stole half of Scott's whenever he got a cup. The way it worked was that everything was prepaid except for drinks, but they'd give you coffee and tea for free. The coffee was strong but had a very nice smooth flavor, I was surprised given that we were out to sea and it was a free drink. Anyway... We got on this other Dragon boat that probably could have carried about 40 people, but it was just Scott and I and our guide Hoa and the crew. We motored over to a fishing village where we picked up our kayaks and got to see where they kept the live fish in nets in the water. Then we towed the kayaks out to the limestone cliffs and got in. Our guide was in a one man kayak and Scott and I shared a 2 person Kayak. With a kayak you steer from the back, where Scott was. It was a good thing there were two of us though, my arms would have been very very tired by the end of the day if I hadn't been able to take small breaks. We kayaked under a tunnel/cave into a lagoon, and then walked the kayaks through another cave/tunnel into a second lagoon where we paddled around and saw some coral and enjoyed the view. On the way back out the tide was starting to come in, so it was a little tough to get out, but you know me and my strong arms I got us there. Phew, so we paddled back to the boat which took us to this nice island with a beach that had just one Vietnamese man lying in a hammock behind a bar where they apparently sold bathing suits. Our guide let us go explore the island while he cooked us lunch. Exploring was really just climbing to the top of some cement steps, but it was still nice. They set up a little table and chairs for us to have a nice romantic dinner on a private beach/island. Now you can see in the picture that our table and chairs were a little short, they remind me of the kiddie lawn furniture you see here in the states. However, all over Vietnam people used these same short plastic chairs, or squatted or used stools. I think they are just used to being low to the ground. Anyway, halfway through our lovely barbecue six course meal I heard a thump and turned around to see the bathing suit seller man with a very bemused expression on his face. He scrambled up from the ground where he landed when his hammock came untied. Scott was facing him and got to see the whole thing, I tried to be polite and not laugh, but I couldn't help myself. Soon after that our private beach became more public when a few other boats showed up. One was full of Asian guys who just stayed on the boat. Our guide, Hoa pronounced Ho-uh, told us that they are Vietnamese who come out to Halong Bay to gamble on the boats. After lunch and beach lounging we stopped by a floating fishing village museum, not a lot to see there besides the various tools they use for fishing. We also kayaked more to a few rock formations. Hoa told us a story about another group he took out kayaking. He was in a two man kayak paddling an older woman and there were two other boats with young people in them. They challenged him to a race to the ship jokingly saying loser buys drinks for the night. Well he took their bet and apparently called up the ship's captain on his cell phone and told him to come around and pick him up. The captain was confused, but Hoa motivated him with the promise of free drinks. The other kayakers didn't realize what had happened and were trying to paddle after the ship that was circling around them. Hoa said he had some nice drinks that night. We got back to the boat and said hello to our new shipmates. A gay couple from Hong Kong and a single guy from the US I think. Scott and I were pretty tired though and went to bed early.

June 19
Nothing too much exciting happened this day. It was mostly a traveling day for us. We stopped again at Serenity Humanity Peace Love etc etc and still didn't buy anything. We got back to our hotel which was the same one we stayed in the first night, only to find that the room they put us in reeked of paint fumes. Apparently they thought they'd spruce the place up for the honeymoon couple by painting it 5 minutes before we stayed in it. Unfortunately this room had no balcony, no jacuzzi tub and the windows opened up into the lobby. They brought up some candles and told us to go to dinner and the fumes would clear out. I also forgot to mention before that the beds in this hotel were like sleeping on cardboard. I've never encountered such hard mattresses before. If you climbed into bed knees first it felt like you were banging your knee on the ground. I know it sounds like I'm complaining, but I really did enjoy the Hanoi Elegance Hotel. So we went out to dinner and shopping which was pretty fun. All the little street stalls are so interesting. They all have the same junk to sell you, but the lifestyle was interesting to see. Everyone worked out in the street making dinner and whatnot. It's hot and humid there, and I'm guessing most places don't have air conditioning so the families all sit outside on the sidewalk on their short chairs and stools and cook and talk. If you want to look through the piles of embroidery or whatnot, they'll hand you their stool. They are masters of that selling tactic I remember learning about in psychology, where if someone gives you something you feel obligated to buy. For instance one woman trying to sell us pineapple responded to our "no thank you" by plopping her conical hat on my head and plunking the bar of her carrying apparatus over my shoulder and saying "picture, picture." She must know that us tourists are suckers for pictures and secretly covet the idea of taking this very picture. So of course I handed my camera to Scott and then we bought some fresh cut pineapple. It was tasty, but overpriced as far as Vietnamese pricing goes. I think the exhaust fumes from all the motorbikes got to me, because I was more than happy to sit down in a restaurant and just have some water. I don't really remember what we ate, but I remember that Scott's was good and mine was greasy, so I ate some of his. People wonder how he stays skinny, but they don't know that it's because I eat all his food and drink all his drinks. One of the more interesting streets we walked down that night was a street where all these men were sitting out banging sheet metal, tin I think, into everyday functional things. The type of thing you'd see at home depot to cover a vent etc, they were hammering into shape on the sidewalk. We got back to the room and it still smelled, though not quite as bad so we dealt with it and went to sleep.

June 20

Another day of travel, after shopping for the last items that we wanted such as picking up a pair of linen pants that Scott had made for him. They are very nice pants I must say. I think it was $15.00 for two pairs of tailor made pants. I'm surprised they didn't try to charge us extra since I'm sure they had to use a ton of fabric on his long legs. They even delivered it to the hotel, quite the service. The coffee at the Hotel was also just as good as the coffee on the boat, so we figured it was a Vietnamese thing. For lunch we at at the Green Tangerine, a french restaurant. The French have had a large influence on the Vietnamese as I believe the Vietnamese were occupied by them for quite some time. The food was very tasty, and I had a three layer soup that came to me with a little candle warmer. It was an interesting mixture of salty and sweet layers. Scott ate rabbit which tasted just as good as chicken, if not a little more rich. He also had what I thought were mashed potatoes which I was excited about because I felt like starches were an afterthought in Vietnamese meals. On the boat the rice would come at odd random times, sometimes at the beginning, middle or end of the meal. We thought maybe it was timed to come at the same time as the squid course, but I think in the end decided it just came whenever it was cooked. Anyway, I found out that Scott's mashed potatoes were actually mashed Lotus seed, I could vaguely detect they weren't potatoes after that, but I am always happy with carbs. After lunch we hopped in a car to the airport, thankfully we had internet in our room, so I received the e-mail from Vietnamese Airlines telling us they'd cancelled our flight and put us on another one 4 hours later. This flight was relatively short only about 2 and a half hours long, but they still gave us a meal and served coffee. One thing I noticed about these flights was that they're the opposite of American air carriers. They wanted to feed you every other minute but you had to push the call button and ask for any kind of drink. Though the drinks were free whether you wanted alcohol or soda. The food this time was just some mushy beef stuff which I skipped since we'd had such a good lunch. We arrived in Cambodia and bought our Visas and walked out to meet our Tuk Tuk driver Soryar pronounced Soy-Yar. He took us to the Hanumanalya hotel where we had a honeymoon sweet reserved. I should note that the Honeymoon planning was Scott's job, and he did a terrific job. I forget what the hotel name means in Khmer, the language they speak in Cambodia, but it was very nice. All dark wood, and such nice space. They left us a message in flowers on our bed, and some floating in the tub. We made plans with Soryar to pick us up the next morning so we could see the sunrise over the temples.


  1. I love your stories. It's not like, we saw this, we saw that, it's all the fun details that I can't get from a photograph. I'm on the edge of my seat for Part III...

  2. Hanumanalaya is the monkey king, sort of the hindu god of tricksters


Recap Defined

ri•cap 1 (rē-kāp') Pronunciation Key tr.v. ri•capped, ri•cap•ping, ri•caps
1. a summary at the end that repeats the substance of a longer discussion
2. To replace a cap or caplike covering on: recapped the camera lens.
3. Ri - a female given name: derived from Adrienne.