Hanoi to Ha Long Bay Castaway Island
One bar crawl later, it was time to get up for a 7am coach to Castaway Island. This was the start of a 3 day boat tour (and party) around Ha Long Bay archipelago. The bus ride was not pleasant for me. Wobbly, hot busses and cramped conditions with added hangover make me vomit. Mike was helpful as usual. I had moved to the front of the bus to see the road and as soon as he heard me starting to retch, he bombed over to poke the GoPro in my face… Cheers bro.
After a 2.5 hour pukey coach ride, it was time for a 1 hour dieselly powerboat shuttle. This was quickly followed by another bus ride over one of the larger Islands. And finally, for desert, a slow, bobbing, pleasure boat to Castaway Island. Luckily I was saved by a magic pill a girl gave me to stem the flow of vomit. For once I was able to enjoy being on a boat and the spectacular scenery around me.
At this point I would like to be able to say the tour was educational / informative / enlightening but it was just one massive party. By the time we had gotten to the Island I had just about recovered from the night before and the horrendous journey to start all over again…
Writing this now I’m very aware how often we had nights out on this trip. Maybe it’s because there was always some sort of drinking activity available, but that would make it sound like I chose to drink every night. I guess I did choose to drink on all occasions but its more like the situations developed. They develop organically and under and air of fun and exploration, I’ve had a great time everytime and I wouldnt change it for anything. For certain I know my limits and when I say I was hung over, its more like a bit of dehydration and fatigue than full on blinding headaches and nausea. There were certainly those on the island who did not know their limits and the GoPro was there for that also HaHa! I realised a long time ago that while I really enjoy a good party with energetic boogying, I also like to be conscious enough to A. Ride the bike safely the next morning and B. Actually do stuff with my life rather than living with my head in a toilet (or in most cases in asia, a squat – the threat of that alone is enough to curb my drinking to an acceptably low level)
Included in the tour was an activity. Mike and I had done it before (we worked out it was literally 10 years ago, we are so old) so we chose to do wakeboarding. I was quite surprised at myself, I managed to get up on the wake first time! It was an amazing experience skipping across the surface in between the gigantic limestone cliffs. Totally surreal and idyllic. Of course I fell off the wake and wiped out spectacularly, but it was fun while it lasted. I had about 5 goes and again was surprised at myself that I got up on the wake. I could only go right foot first so crossing the bow wave to get to the other side of the boat was tricky. This caused most of my splashdowns.
The other activities were rock climbing or tubing. Tubing is basically the same as wakeboarding except 5 of you sit on an inflatable. The boat pulls this along and you hang on while the powerboat pilot does his best to fling you off. It looked good fun but I could only choose one activity. You would have thought rock climbing would have been the obvious choice for me, but I didnt want to over exert myself and injure my knee again. Its very frustrating knowing that I used to be able to climb some amazing things and now, in this fantastic environment, I would miss out. I just thought it better to work up my knee slowly… in hindsight wakeboarding isn’t that easy on the knees either but I was fine so, meh.
Chortle and the flowers had made it intact to the island. They were proudly displayed in the rafters above the dance floor. They would be the mascots for the trip and I was interested to see how long they would last on a booze cruise tomorrow. Alcohol, water, games, brightly coloured things, it’s a recipe for hilarious disaster. However by the time I got back from wakeboarding the horse had disappeared. That night I was consoled for my loss by many people and it became a bit of a treasure hunt to find Chortle the horse. Alas, he was never seen again…