Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 8: Off to Along Baie (Friday, July 4)

Actually I was off to Halong Bay, but Elodie says and spells it Along Baie and she figures prominently in this trip. I was delighted yesterday afternoon to discover that Elodie was not only still in Hanoi, but also going to Halong Bay on the same tour I was. From the first when we got on the mini bus, she made it more interesting. First she made everyone go around and introduce themselves. We hit it off with Scott and Daniel, two Canadian brothers who were sitting behind us on the bus. So the three hours on the way to Halong City were occupied with telling jokes. I didn't laugh at any of them as much as I laughed at my "three pieces of string" joke, but anyone who's heard me tell it knows that.

This trip was for three days and two nights. The first night we were to spend out on a boat in the bay and the second in a hotel on Cat Ba island. It was loads of fun and very picturesque. I'm going to let the pictures tell most of the story.

Here is Elodie telling her joke to a Spanish couple and a Korean couple who were also on the boat with us. Because the tour was overbooked, Elodie, Daniel, Scott, Rich and I were shuffled off to a smaller boat. On it there were us, a Swiss couple, a Spanish couple and the two Koreans. Elodie's joke was delivered in English with a heavy French accent with uncertain syntax and lots of pantomime. It goes like this: "How heavy is a polar bear? Enough to break the ice. Hi, I'm ..." And it is further complicated by her saying, "Hi, I'm Franz" in an Arnold accent at the end since that's who she heard it from first. Needless to say, the Koreans didn't get it. But luckily the woman of the Swiss couple spoke five languages, so she explained it to the Spaniards.Here is the harbor with all the tour boats and a bit of the scenery as we took off.

Here's part of the cave we explored before we went kayaking.

Here's where the boat anchored for the night after the kayaking. I didn't dive off the top, of course, but I did dive off the railing, which was brave for me.

Here we are mid-way through our evening of pretty mellow drinking games. We were playing with everyone except the Korean couple. The rules were explained in English, then in French, then translated into Spanish, so we got along just fine. We persuaded everyone to play to celebrate Patrick's 50th birthday which was coming in a couple of days. It turned out that both the Swiss and Spanish women were second grade teachers. It was quite a jolly time.

The other boats rocked their lights gently in the distance.
The stars twinkled like warm kisses on a sleeping cheek.

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