The past week (almost weekS by now) I had Dutchies around me pretty much the entire time. Horrible :p. Dutchies in the hostels, in the bus, on the road, everywhere. The Netherlands is not too big, but somehow they’re everywhere. You have to try really hard to not stumble across them.. Ah well, time for the update.
(If you mind reading about pigs getting delivered to be slaughtered, and a rather graphic picture of half a pig head, then don’t click the ‘+’, otherwise go ahead)
After that, we got on our scooters again, to head back to Ha Giang. We chose a different route than we came from, so there was no overlap, and because of that we saw new amazing scenery. The annoying thing is that you almost get used to everything around you being beautiful, so that after a while you stop enjoying it as much as you should. The road was significantly worse compared to the road we came from, which slowed us down quite a bit, but we persevered. For a moment, it was ‘scary’ whether or not our tanks would manage, because the fuel indicator indicated empty when we still had 30km to go, but luckily it worked out in the end and we all safely arrived in Ha Giang.
After arriving in the hostel and returning the scooters Bas and I checked in for a single night, and we said goodbye to Iris (she took the night bus to Hanoi immediately). Bas and I didn’t really feel like doing that, because we just spent 5 days that were quite tiring, so we longed for a proper night sleep. The next morning we took the day bus to Hanoi, spent a night there, and then went to Cát Bà Island. The average tourist does a Ha Long Bay tour from Hanoi, and spends 2 days 1 night or 3 days 2 nights on a cruise ship. That is, however, fairly expensive. Another option is going to Cát Bà Island, which is the biggest island in Ha Long Bay, and from there do a day trip around the bay, which is exactly what we did. When we arrived there, I quickly went to explore the city, hoping I could find myself some new flip flops. However, everyone started laughing as soon as they saw my feet, and they said “big size 42”, which isn’t really going to work with my size 47/48.. After seeing 10 different flip flop stores, we gave up and headed back to the hostel. There we got our swim stuff, and headed to the beach to just enjoy doing nothing for a bit.
That night we sat in the hostel lobby, played some card games and enjoyed the sunset. We met up with Iris again, and said goodbye again, but this time the goodbye would the more definitive, because she was going home soon.
The next morning was an early one, because we booked the Ha Long Bay tour. At first it seemed like it would be a very busy boat journey, but luckily we dropped pretty much everyone off at ‘monkey island’, and from then on apart from the crew, there were only us, the 9 backpackers. We enjoyed the weather, saw beautiful, Avatar-esque landscapes and swam/kayaked in the sea. And jumped from the top of the boat into the sea. We kept on going further and further away from mainland, so my internet got worse and worse. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but with Brexit going on, and us spending the day with 3 Brits, it was slightly inconvenient. Luckily (?) during lunchtime I managed to connect, and that’s where the news came in. Wow. Brexit happened. I didn’t expect that… Weird. Everyone tried to keep on enjoying/swimming/jumping off the boat/kayaking/etcetera, but we couldn’t stop talking about it. At the end of the day we ended up at monkey island, where we climbed up a mountain for a fantastic view of the environment.
That night we ordered food from the hostel. It wasn’t bad, but it was extremely slow. After at least 30 minutes they came and told me that they didn’t have the ingredients for the dish I ordered, and one of the British girls, that ordered a simple pancake, had to wait for almost an hour. Ah well. For a change, we ended the night playing card games and having fun.
The next morning I slept until late, said goodbye to the British girls, and went back to bed. The plan already was to have a chill day, but because of my intestines not particularly agreeing with my choice of food from the day before, I ended up spending the day watching Game of Thrones in bed, instead of going to the beach and reading a book. Still, could’ve been worse.
Luckily, by the end of the day I started feeling better, so got out of bed and enjoyed the sunset once again.
That night, while (you guessed it right) playing card games, a Vietnamese man approached us,many asked whether we would be interested in joining him tomorrow, and teaching the local kids some English. I’ve met quite a few people that told amazing stories about their volunteering in orphanages for example, and I was really eager to try it out! Bas and Ollie (the British guy we’d been spending the previous couple of days with) were also really excited, so we all joined. Because of that prospect, we called it an early night and went to bed.
And then it was time to teach! At first, they were shy, afraid to say anything, but as soon as we played a few games, and made them feel comfortable, you could feel their (confidence in their own) English improving. We sang ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ together, and all kinds of games. It was a great experience, and one I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on!
After that we packed our bags, checked out, and went to Hanoi. That night, we met up with the British girls, and we explored the city together.
The next day I had a ‘challenge’ for myself: flip flops. Surely some store somewhere in the capital of Hanoi would have flip flops in my size, right? It wasn’t until I was just about to give up that I finally stumbled upon something that was close enough to my size. 46. Not exactly 47/48, but close enough. Strolled around the old city for a bit, had a late lunch to say goodbye to Bas, and that night had some food with two of my new roomies.
And then we already arrived at the current day. This morning me and a Belgian girl had our cultural day out. We started off at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where you can see the body of the greatest leader Vietnam has ever had. I have to say I was impressed by how well he was preserved. Then we visited the Ho Chi Minh Museum, saw his working/sleeping house(s) and we ended with the ‘temple of literature.’ After finishing the cultural day out, we went back to the hostel, and by then, my shirt had changed colors come again, because it’s still way too hot over here…
And that’s where life is at right now. Later today I’ll head to some home stay near the airport, so that I don’t have to pay for a taxi all the way from Hanoi to the Airport, and so that I can wake up a bit later. And then it’s time for the last country on the list: Malaysia! I’m ready!