Wobbling Wounded

Ha Long to Hanoi

The aftermath of the night before was evident this morning. The pleasant morning gong managed to rouse about 20% of the island. I was up, not one to miss a meal. I had the choice of enjoying the company of the angry omelette man or semi-conscious sandy islanders. None more sandy than Mike who had crashed out on the beach and made himself a sand pillow. Somehow in the middle of the night he had dragged himself, and half the beach it seemed, back into his bed.

Time is deceptive on the island. Because you have been partying all day and the only light is sunlight or that powered by generator, once everyone has given up and passed out, its not actually that late. It gets dark at about 8pm and after 4 hours of dancing like a loon I was knackered!

I have decided that Bahn Mi are my favorite lunches. They are just a mini french bread with various meats and veges and sauces but they are really good. All the way up vietnam they have been the lunch of choice and since Hi Chi Minh I have been looking for the best one. Maybe that first one was so good because I had just got off a flight and really needed it but finally in Hanoi there was a dedicated Bahn Mi shop and it was amazing. I guess its like their Subway but just superior in every way. This morning I had just a plain egg omelette Bahn Mi as the perfect hangover cure. I’ve learned to like coffee (surprisingly if you know me, or not if you dont) vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk, its really cool and refreshing and goes well with a hot Bahn Mi.

As more people slowly emerged, collectively the night’s events were pieced together. Turns out I regained my beer pong skills with a new partner, a Frenchman named William (which is a really cool name to say in a french accent – go on, give it a go) We teamed up and took on about 5 games and won them all. The stakes were getting quite high at one point where the loser would have had to buy drinks all night. Then my former partner Leemee and Big Bear challenged us, the new champions. I’ll be honest, when we were partners Leemee was carrying us, he is quite a good shot so the pressure was on. Because of the internationality of the teammates, there was quite a discussion/clarification of rules before we started. Some hostels have their house rules posted on a board so there are no arguments but not today. In the end it didn’t matter, we were all dancing around and having such a good time that the game did not get finished.

After rousing Mike 3 times and convincing him to get up for breakfast, he found a comfy spot on the beach and went back to sleep. Everyone was just chilling out on the beach groaning and chatting occasionally. Slowly the sun made an appearance for the first time. It wasnt bad weather and it certainly wasn’t cold but the whole castaway had been under a complete blanket of white cloud. It was nice to have some warming nuclear radiation on our skin for a change.


I made the most of it and swam out to The Tube © to soak it up. I wanted to top up my tan to make everyone jealous when I returned. I have developed a weird tan line on my wrists where I have been riding with my leather bike gloves so hopefully it would even that out a bit. Also the fresh water and time alone would be nice for the hangover. Again, I really wish I didn’t get seasick so easily. I was barely even bobbing, on the tube, but I couldn’t stay long before I had to get back in the water and swim back to dry land. But for 20 mins I just lay alone on the tube looking out into Ha Long bay, one of the natural wonders of the world. My view was completely uninterrupted by any human artifacts. I felt like I was drifting through a motivational poster that people send to each other at work on Monday mornings.

Urgh, my first Monday morning is looming. I’m kind of looking forward to normality but also, for a full 3 weeks now I haven’t thought about work or even the journey home. It has been like a soothing balm for my soul. 2015 has been pretty hard work and pretty shit over all so this break was just what the doctor ordered. Mike had lightly pressured me into meeting him and while I wanted to do it, I could have found an excuse not to go. I am eternally grateful to him for that pressure, it was supportive in a bro-mantic kinda way. It’s hard to explain but guys understand.

The boat picked us up at around noon. People slowly finished sunning and re-hydrating themselves and got ready. Mental and chemical preparation was required to get me back on the boat to bus to boat to coach ride home. I had kept one of the tablets back because I knew this journey was coming. It did the trick and I think was the last nail in the coffin for my hangover too. By the time we got back to the hostel in downtown Hanoi I was feeling great, just very tired.

We washed up, and dropped our stinky clothes off at the laundrette. I do not envy the poor person who had to handle my 3 day old party clothes, they practically crawled out of my bag on their own. The food on the island had been pretty much the same stuff each day, fairly bland vietnamese rice, noodles, lumps of meat and veg. We relished the western food offered by the hostel.

The George brothers, Craig and Luke, were staying at a friends house so we exchanged contact info so we could meet up on old Blighty later in the year. They headed off and after chatting with the new friends from the island for a while an old face made an appearance – Andrew, from Hoi An, where we played cards and drank free run and cheap coke, remember? It was great to see him again, we had gotten on really well. Mike, still buzzing from drinking enroute home and me, having sobered up were both up for a night out. (I’ve only got a couple days left to party – quit with your judgemental eyebrow lifting, I can hear it!) We engaged in the hostels music and danced, when I say danced, it was more like hobbling for me. The island had broken me and I was sporting cuts all over my back, coral in my foot, a nearly missing toenail and a nicely infected cut on my foot also. Ah well… onwards and outwards we went.