Tuesday, 18 December 2007
& more Vietnam
I'll finish where I left off....
Three days of kayaking in Ha Long bay and Cat Ba Nat’l Park
…ended up being not so much about kayaking as about relaxing on the deck of our junk (finally! this is a vacation after all)), meeting some cool peeps (as our Vietnamese guide sweetly put it, “learning new culturals”) and the highlight–our 3-hour karaoke bender the second night with our new buds. The adorable duo of Pook and Bean collaborated on ‘Manic Monday’, ‘Hotel California’, and ‘Octopus's Garden’ to name a few…then it was as if my husband discovered (or re-discovered? we all know he’s a ham.) his inner performance artist taking songs like ‘Shebop’, the Laverne & Shirley theme (we’re gonna make your dreams come true…doin’ it our way) and ‘Sledgehammer’ (God I hate that song) to new levels.
Ha Long bay–in the running for being added to the Natural Wonders of the World list–was beautiful, but honestly? I wasn’t as blown away by it as I thought I’d be. Maybe because I’d seen pictures and advertisements galore for tours all over the place in Hanoi. So when finally laying eyes on it for real, it was like, oh….nice. Just like the picture. Steve says we’re jaded by other wonderful stuff we’ve seen over the last few years; I hope not and like to think the best is yet to come. And enjoy the here and now, of course. Sometimes it goes against every fiber in my body to not attempt comparisons but to see things in their own right.
Here we took a wonderful boat ride through the Tam Coc (translated as three caves) in this small town southeast of Hanoi. The scenery was spectacular and here I was floored: huge limestone karsts rising up through rice paddies (I told you, there’s something about rice paddies with me), the occasional pagoda high up on a cliff, white billy goats even higher.
And our pseudo-paddler. You see, all the boats with non-whities (please don't be offended, it's a joke between Steve & I--if you are offended, then duh, stop reading!) had one solitary paddler rowing them through the 2-hour trip. But we had 2 rowers, as did other…westerners. Why? Were we that heavy compared to Asians? On the return boat trip, though, we discovered that our pseudo-paddler was really peddling in her hideaway trunk gazillions of embroidered…everything: tablecloths, pillowcases, drawstring bags, embroidery to end all embroidery. More than both my nonnas combined have ever owned in their life (and that is a bloody lot), all “hidden” in this little canoe. Polite refusal to a non-English speaking person only gets you so far–when she continued hawking we just started having fun with it, “So you’re not a yankees fan? How come you only smile when you want something, grandma?” She boldly asked us for a tip at the end, on the docks, where good cop-bad cop came into play--I helplessly pointed at Steve and the fact that he carried the money (he was already halfway towards to moto drivers). I’m sure karma will rear its ugly head for that one. But why should we tip the pseudo-paddler?!
Oh but there’s so much more. Our hideous Hell on Wheels I and Hell on Wheels II sleeper bus trips with disgustingtons. Just foul. And our homestay. But now we’ve got a looming plane to catch for Bangkok and Steve has to use the bawngkohn–betcha don’t need 3 guesses for that one!
Happy Thanksgiving and blessings all around!