Photos to boot

This is the stuff dreams are made of.

Boring view.

Not kidding. They follow you. “Hello, you buy?”

Authentic cooking.

On Monkey Island

“My name is Guybrush Threepwood and I’m a mighty pirate.”

Noony was there


Post-Cave. (not Grinderman)

Halong Bay, Vietnam

So, we have a lot of catching up to do. We have been having too much fun at Wills to write anything. Shame on us.

First, I will write about our trip to Halong Bay, which was stunning. The place really lives up to the legend that it was created by dragon footprints as it has a magical atmosphere and the perfect blue water with the giant towers of rock just don’t seem real. When we first arrived we went on a bamboo boat around the bay and went to a floating fishing village and visited a floating school. And yes, they literally are floating houses/buildings on bamboo and industrial floating devices. There were a number of dogs on everyones boats and on the decks of their house which we were wondering whether they are for security or food…maybe both?

Noony has gone for a shower so I suppose I better take over.

When we returned from the bamboo boat we were invited to join a cooking class on our junk boat. This was one of the things that swayed our decision to use this specific tour operator. What excitement! To learn ancient traditional cooking and utilise this knowledge for when we get back home. I shall share with you the secrets taught to us, handed down over the generations.

Wet finger
Rub finger over rice paper
Roll up ready-made spring roll mixture
Hand to cooking teacher for him to cook.

The free glass of red wine made it fun though. Noony was incredibly proud of her spring roll, to the point that rejected any photo that didn’t have all 65 of her teeth showing.

After eating a shovel load of food, (I tried squid and prawns and pork, oh my) which Noony tells me was delicious, we found out it was the Captian’s birthday. Free beers were pushed into our hands, we politely got drunk. The captain asked who had iPods, so we got ours and after playing some party hits, the other table turned to Noony and asked, “Are you the DJ, because this music is terrible.” If there’s one things I’ve learnt, it’s ‘know your audience’. They weren’t even happy with Van Morrison, so quite frankly they can piss off forever, snobby nosed old hags.

Our cabin was impressive and the bathroom, stunning. James Bond would have done fine here wooing, intimidating and euphemising with all the Swedish wood. We thought we had the life to live here. Except… There were two problems: the first being the horrific rumbling of the diesel engine that constantly roared below us. The bed vibrated and I’m sure moved about the room at night. That might be the sea sickness, it might be the moss I ate on the side of the boat. But needless to say sleeping was tough. The second problem respectively was much much worse. Not only were we above the engine room, we were also adjacent to the kitchen. And out of the woodwork, like clockwork, cockroaches would infest the room. We killed twenty. If you don’t know Noony, (she’s saying hello) there are two bugs she just cannot bare, a phobia to the point of madness. Decrepid, non-sensical madness. She didn’t sleep the first night at all after finding cockroaches in the bedsheets.

In the morning, we asked if we could move. Noony, white as a cockroach covered sheet, put her assertive foot forward. Their answer was simple: no. There were spare rooms but they wouldn’t move us. Knowing that we would have to sleep in there for a second night put a mild dampener on things.
Moan over, boo. Here’s Noony.

The day began very early, not that it mattered as I didn’t sleep a wink anyway, with us heading off on a smaller boat to get some kayaks. We had a double kayak and set off around the bay to find a nice secluded beach. Pez sneakily sat in the back and wasn’t paddling half as much as me. Cheeky bugger. We mostly sat on the sand and chatted with some other tourists we found but others went for a swim in the cold blue water. After kayaking for most of the morning we had lunch on the small boat while we sailed to Monkey Island. If any of you are familiar with the computer game, you would be severely disappointed. However, the view from climbing up the rocks was awesome, and there were plenty of monkeys. One stole someones sock and taunted him with it and put it on as a hat and then a glove. After most of us chasing the monkey across the beach we finally got the sock back. The monkeys even tried to take someones back pack and Pez was attacked by one. He put up his fists and made a grumble noise and I think the monkey realised how ridiculous he looked and gave up swiftly.

I was particularly upset at this point in the day as it was time to return to the junk boat and our dreaded cabin of bugs. Luckily a girl on the tour lent us a mosquito net which put up at least a psychological barrier to the cockroaches, if not a physical one. I still hardly slept but at least I closed my eyes. The following morning Pez and I were really happy as we knew we didn’t have to sleep in the room again and were shortly heading back to the mainland after a visit to the “Amazing Cave”. The cave looked like something out of The Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal and was pretty amazing. (Photos to follow)

We had one full day left to spend in Hanoi on our return and Pez and I decided the best way to spend it would be visiting a dead dictator. For 41 years dead, Ho Chi Minh looked awesome. Unfortunately, there are no photos to follow on this one as there is some crazy dictatorial rule that no pictures are allowed in his mausoleum.