Vietnam was wonderful and much too fast. The highlight was definitely Halong Bay. We took a 3 day 2 night cruise which included 8 meals, one night lodging on the boat, one in a hotel, kayaking (amazing!), hiking and transportation to and from Hanoi (3 hours away) for $50. It was a wonderful trip because we became great friends with all the other travelers on board.
Two funny occurrences from the trip...
#1 Bethany got attacked by a money. We were halfway through our journey and made a stop at money island. The monkeys were brought to the island a few decades ago and have cheerfully inhabited it since then. We paddled our kayaks up to the shore and got out to take a look around. The monkeys were sitting on the rocks indifferent to the handful of people snapping pictures of them. Some people were getting within a few feet away of them and they didn't seem to care. Then, with an unlucky turn of fate, one decided to go vicious toward Bethany. She wasn't taking pictures or anything, just standing there. It stared her in the eyes for a few second before it came over and attached itself to her leg. She began kicking her leg around to try to get it off. After a few seconds, she finally succeeded and it came off along with her shoe. She wasn't hurt at all but she was definitely scarred by the whole event. We laughed about the incident the entire journey back.
#2 I made an addition to the items on my disgusting food list. Right after we finished kayaking we were hanging out in this little hut on the water waiting for our bus. And then we spotted it. On the wall here about 7 big jars filled with Vietnamese rice wine. This wasn't any rice wine, however. A closer look revealed all sorts of flavor additions to the wine. Rice wine with geckos, rice with with starfish. There was one with sea horses and one with clams. But the one that topped it all off was the rice wine with goat. No kidding... there was a whole baby goat in the bottom of the jar and it had been fermenting there for a year (we were told). As all of us were standing there in awe at the grossness of the fact, the owner of the shack came up and invited me for a shot with him. So, he dipped two glasses in and down they went. The actual wine didn't taste bad. It was kind of sweet and didn't burn at all. But the after taste was wretched...a bit too goaty for my liking.
I'm in Phuket now. This island is a tropical paradise. I've rented a scooter and am going to explore the island today including the orchid farm, monkey rehabilitation center and lots of beaches! AND, tomorrow is the start of my scuba adventure. I can't wait!
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