Tagged: national park

Miri, Sarawak, Borneo

 

Miri we stayed at Dillenia Guesthouse, which is located downtown. Miri is the destination for Brunei locals to come on the weekend to party. The city is pretty small but there are plenty or bars and restaurants to keep entertained. It’s relatively clean (except near the water) and the locals are friendly. 

 

Vermont and I checked into our dorm then headed out for a walk. We went down towards the water, which we thought was going to be a beach, and it ended up being a dock covered in garbage. There are a few seafood restaurants on the waterfront and a massive construction site. We had wonton soup and much needed iced coffee at one of the restaurants, then kept walking around. On our way home we stopped at the spa below us and got a massage. It costs $9 for an hour, which is expensive for Asia, but it’s the cheapest I’ve seen in Malaysia.

A friend from our hostel in Seminyak arrived and we’re now officially three people traveling together. He’s British but works in Gibraltar and lives across the border in Spain. 
The three of us went out and had dinner at local street restaurant. The restaurant didn’t serve alcohol so we grabbed beers across the street. We then walked across the street to a massive bar complex and started at the first bar on one end, which also was the only bar that had people. It was a Monday night and everywhere was dead.
After there we headed towards the water to Hangover bar. We stayed here for the night playing pool and darts. I loved the darts and I wasn’t bad.
The next day we slept in late because we were all exhausted from a lack of sleep the night before. When we did get up we went for lunch and had chicken roti’s. We then grabbed a cab to take us to the main temple in Miri.  

San Ching Tian temple is the largest Chinese Taoist temple in all of South East Asia. The temple has an archway, a courtyard, the main structure and smaller gazebo’s around. Inside the temple are three buddha’s and cushions to kneel on for prayer. There are floral candles available for purchase and some were lit already. The temple is incredibly colorful (bright rainbow colors) with intricate detail and carvings. 

  

  

  

 Down the road a new Taoist temple is currently being finished. This temple is also colorful with two large dragons  boarding the entrance. There’s a koi fish pond and large red wooden doors to enter the actual temple. The temple is closed but we were able to see inside by the side windows.  

     After the temple we came back downtown and checked out Imperial Mall across the street from us. I was hoping it would have some of the cheap Malaysia stores I found in west Malaysia, but it was filled with regular western stores.

At 9ish we went for a late dinner on the waterfront at Yi Hah Hai Seafood. The restaurant had fish tanks and Gibraltar and I picked out what we wanted to eat. We chose shrimp, calamari and oysters. We were served butter shrimp, steamed oysters with garlic and fried calamari. We also got sautéed vegetables. The shrimp was absolutely delicious.  


 

 In the morning we took a public bus to the long distance bus terminal and boarded a bus towards Sibu for Lambir Hills National Park. It was a 30min ride, so an hour trip total to get there. Lambir Hills, which is a rainforest, has multiple hiking trails and waterfalls throughout. 

We first walked from the park entrance to Pantu Waterfall which was almost 2km. The waterfall wasn’t that big but the freshwater pool was Cleese turquoise and the mountain sides were completely covered in moss which gave made the scene fantasy-like. We all swam here and the water was cold and refreshing. [first image] 

We then walked backwards .34km and to Pantu Mountain (1.4km.) It was a gruesome hike up to the top with steep climbs. It started to rain on our way up which made it slippery but felt amazing in the over-heated forestry. The view was foggy when we got there but it cleared over the next ten minutes.   

 

The trek down wasn’t as long or slippery as expected. We walked the 1.4km back then 2.2km to headquarters. 


 

Along the way we stopped at Nibong Waterfall, which we couldn’t reach because it was through a pool. Then we passed Latak Waterfall, which we had to cross over a bridge to reach. There was a beach and a massive freshwater pool below the fall. I didn’t swim here because I was still wet from the rain.  

We hitchhiked for a private bus back to the main bus station, then headed to the public bus stop. While we were waiting a man pulled up and asked if we wanted a ride to town for 2rm each, only .50 more than the bus. We said yes and crammed in. I told him the street we were staying on and he said he knew it but once in town he drove far in the opposite direction. He then stopped to let two other people out and told us it’s 3rm each and to get out. After refusing to exit and yelling about money we finally got him to turn around. He had absolutely no idea what we were saying and I had to guide him all the way there- keep in mind he’s a private driver and it’s a tiny city. We had him drop us off a block away and I gave him 6rm (for the 3 of us) quickly and jumped out. I’m completely sick of locals trying to trick me, and this one was definitely trying to take advantage of us.

For dinner we went to The Workshop Grill for pork burgers. This trendy hole in the wall restaurant is funny because it’s a Muslim country and most restaurants have window signs saying they don’t serve pork. This place only serves pork. We sat at a table outside and I had the classic burger, which was a grilled fillet of pork covered in onion chutney. I added some chili and it was delicious.
 
After dinner we ran some errands (aka stocked up on alcohol for Brunei) and went home to chill out. It had been a long day and we had another early morning to look forward to. At 8:30 we got picked up by a mini-shuttle and rode 4 hours to Brunei. 

Komodo, Flores Island, Indonesia

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I was picked-up at the Labuan Bajo airport by a local (a friend’s friend) who I had been talking to for the last week. He drove me into the port town to his office and I booked a trip to Komodo island, and a scuba trip. I then checked into Hotel Matahari, a single room for 80,000 rp. I spent the entire day in bed resting then went out for a quick local dinner at Blue Corner. I was exhausted from all the early mornings and traveling.

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The next morning I boarded a small wooden boat for a 2 day- 1 night trip. The group was me, two Argentina girls, an American couple, a German man with his Balinese wife, and her brother. There were also two local captains. We headed first to Rican— island, part of Komodo National Park. The mountains of land jet out all over the ocean. The grass covers the land like a golf course- smooth with random Palm trees. I’ve never seen anything like it.

At Rijan Island we paid the park entrance fee of 228,000 rp ($17 per day,) and we did the medium hike which was a little over an hour through both jungle and open land. We saw a bunch of lazy resting Komodo dragons, which look like large lizards with crocodile skin. There were three random water buffalos and a lot of buffalo poop. A few monkeys and jungle turkeys. We didn’t see any snakes or deer.

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After the hike we had lunch on the boat then drove for two hours towards Komodo island. The weather turned but it only drizzled for a bit before the sun came out again.

We got to Komodo Island to find deer lounging on the beach. At the gate we were told we had to pay again for tour guides and a hiking fee, another hidden cost that they opt to not tell you about. All seven of us decided we didn’t want to pay again especially because there was nothing different on this island. So we boarded the boat again and headed to Phuket island to go swimming. Here and our next stop locals arrived on long wooden boats to sell pearl necklaces and Komodo dragon wood figurines.

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We then drove a little farther and docked for the night. I sipped whiskey with the German and his local brother in law while the sun set. We then had a feast, this time with fried calamari. The locals played western music and a nearby boat lit fireworks randomly throughout the night. I slept on top of the boat on foam mats covered with a wooden awning.

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In the morning we were up with the sun and started off for Pink Beach at 7am. The beach did not appear pink from the ocean but once on it I could see the tint of pink along the shoreline caused by broken up pink coral. The snorkeling before the shore was amazing with pink and purple corals.

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After we drove to Manta Ray Point to snorkel. The manta ray’s look like giant sting rays, one we saw was 3 meters long. They swam to the surface so we could see them from the boat, but it was much more exciting to swim with them. As cool as it was though it only made me want to dive to actually swim deep with them. To our surprise there was a lot of trash in the water.

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After a few manta ray spots we went to a small beach. We had lunch then snorkeled around. Snorkeling I saw brown coral with blue tops, and there was one 5″ pink fluorescent fish that kept running into my googles with wide eyes, backing away, then doing it again. That made my day.

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I lounged on top of the boat taking in too much sun as we drove back to Labuan Bajo. I went back to the same hotel but got a dorm this time, then relaxed for the night. Unfortunately it rained throughout the night and I had to walk outside to get to the shared bathroom.

The next morning I was at Manta Rhei Dive shop at 7am for a full-day three tank dive. The Manta Rhei wooden boat was much nicer than the previous boat I was on; it was clean and new looking with big colorful bean bag chairs on the top. They served grain bread and donuts for breakfast, cookies and oranges in between dives, a nice lunch including a salad with avocado (my first salad in months,) and pound cake and watermelon after our last dive.

[I bought a red filter for my GoPro which is needed for diving, which I learned in Thailand when all my photos came out dark green. However, this time all my photos came out yellow and red. I'm not sure why but I'll figure it out before my next dive. For now here are some abstract photos of the bluest water I've ever seen.]

The American couple from my snorkel trip were also on the boat. My dive group was a dive master from the shop, a dive master in training from the shop, an instructor from Mexico fun diving, a dive master from Bali fun diving, and an open water diver who dives at home frequently. This was the first dive boat I’ve been on where you enter the water by falling backwards. I smacked the back of my knees all three times on the ledge even though I thought I straightened my legs- three days later it still hurts.

The first dive we went to was Mini Wall. The water temperature was cold, at 25 Celsius. I was chilly in a wetsuit, which I did not expect considering I was diving in Thailand without a wetsuit and was fine. I ran out of air faster than everyone else, and faster than I ever have before (because I was freezing,) so for the next two dives the dive master in training became my buddy so we could go back to the surface early without dragging everyone else back with me. [All the other divers were wearing multiple wetsuit layer which they brought from home- my dive buddy was wearing 2 wetsuit tops underneath his normal wetsuit.]

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The second dive we went to was Makassan Reef (Manta Point.) This was my first Drift dive and would have been very exciting if I knew how to handle it. The current was insanely strong and we moved so quickly, like a high-speed conveyer belt above the coral. The other divers in my group were relaxed but I had never done a drift before and didn’t know how to control my body from slamming into the ground or floating too high up, so in the end I probably looked like a maniac flapping away. The black and grey reef manta ray’s were incredible, ranging from 3-4 meters. We saw about 10 of them during the dive. At one point my dive buddy grabbed me and we stayed low while a manta swam directly above us.

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The third dive was at Batu Bolong. This is known as being the best dive site in Komodo for having the largest animals- sharks, large fish, octopus, etc. However, I did not get to experience the site as it should be. It was the coldest dive at 24 Celsius, and there was also intense currents. We were constantly battling the drift one way then it would shift and we were fighting to get back the other direction. It was a non-stop workout and I ran out of air the fastest here at just 33 minutes. I did manage to see a few white rip reef sharks, a lion fish, and a turtle, but nothing I hadn’t seen before.

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When we got back onto the boat we saw how intense the water looked from above. The area we emerged from looked like a toilet flushing. It was difficult to move around and get the other divers, and the ride home was a mess. It started to rain, then pour, and the waves were rough. The captain was unable to turn the boat towards the mainland without almost tipping, so we went out of the way for a while. The boat didn’t have sides so the rain was soaking the boat. I attempted to hide in the captain’s quarters but when the local crew jumped out to wipe the windshield and guide the boat I also got the splash of the rain. It took almost four hours instead of two to get back.

I decided I needed a massage when I got back to shore, and a hot shower. My knees were incredibly sore from working them so hard in the freezing water, and my back (which is always sore from poor beds and non-stop travel) was in even more pain from sitting awkwardly on a wooden shelf for the past few hours. I’m sunburnt from the live aboard so as good as the cream felt on my skin it also burned when she grabbed me. Throughout the night after the massage I was in more pain. I think I pulled a muscle in my neck, and my chest felt funny.

My dive buddy runs the Manta Rhei homestay and he let me stay the night for free, even though technically you need to do two days of diving with them to stay there. We went out to a local restaurant for dinner and once again I shocked locals with the amount of chili I can eat (I put two servings worth in my soup.) We split two Bintang’s and picked up another for home. We chatted for a while before going to bed.

The next morning he drove me to town at 8am. I had breakfast at a chic hippie Greek restaurant on the main road. I then picked up my laundry and grabbed a motorbike off the main road to take me to the airport. I flew to Bali, then to Lombok with Wings Air.

Taman Negara, Malaysia

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Sweden and I traveled to Taman Negara via a four hour mini-bus then a three hour long canoe ride along the river. We arrived at 4pm and checked into Julie’s Hostel. The dorm has seven non-bunk beds with two ensuite bathrooms and AC for $7 per night.

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Taman Negara is the oldest rainforest in the world at 130 million years old. Last year there was a major flood and a lot of the rainforest was damaged which is visible along the water banks. The tiny town across from the rainforest is where the accommodation, restaurants and general store in located. The accommodation is up a hill while the restaurants are on barges on the water (the are also a few on the one street up the hill.)

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We had been planning to stay three nights and two days but we changed our plans when we found out how little there is to do besides trekking. We decided to spend our next day doing all the activities (day and night trekking,) and leave the day after.

We woke up, had breakfast on one of the barges, then headed out on our own for day trekking. First we walked to the canopy walk- the longest in the world. There were five walks that were very sturdy.

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Then we walked up to Bukit Terisek view point at 344 meters. But we found a taller peak right before with a nicer view. We trekked back down the mountain which ended up being an adventurous path through destroyed trees. We stumbled upon a massive fallen tree that we were able to climb onto and walk on. It’s roots stuck in the air about 15 ft high. From there we skipped over streams and eventually made our way to Lubuk Simpon, the swimming area. It was a separate part of the river that was lagoon-like. The water was too cold for my liking but it was refreshing to jump in none the less.

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We made it back by 5ish, had lunch on another barge, then went out for an evening jungle trek. Some girls we knew did it the night before and said it was great- they saw spiders, scorpions, snakes, etc. But our trip ended up being not so great. There were two groups with kids right before us on the path who kept screaming and scaring everything off. At one point two boys were arguing over who spotted the tarantula first and by the time we got there all we could see was one leg sticking out of a hole in a tree. Through the whole walk we saw a few stick bugs, a grasshopper, the leg of a tarantula, half a scorpion, and the wing of a colorful bird hiding in a tree. I guess you either luck out or you don’t.

After the tour we grabbed beer and burgers in town with two of our roommates. The next morning we left for Kuala Lumpur.

Mandalay, Myanmar

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We arrived in Mandalay and went straight to our local’s cousins restaurant for lunch. Italy and I ate fried chicken with a bunch of little side dishes. We then went to our accommodation to change for the night.

I stayed at Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse which I saw on many blogs. The hostel was amazing. Mama started the hostel out of her home ten years ago to learn English. The girls that work there come from families that couldn’t afford them so Mama took them in. A few years back the government found out about Mama’s home hostel, which was apparently illegal, so she bought another building around the corner and expanded. The hostel is now the place to be for backpackers. The breakfasts are huge (eggs, toast, a hot side dish, fruit plate, coffee, tea, juice) and she’ll feed you until your stuffed. You get complimentary water bottles everyday and free refills. Free packaged snacks when you buy beer and every night there’s free peanuts and watermelon to snack on. She treats you like family, the way your grandmother would. Every single night she’s overbooked and if anyone shows up and there’s no space she’ll let you sleep on her floor. The place really feels like a home in the best way.

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After setting in our local picked us up with his cousin and we drove to Mahamuni Pagoda to see the large golden sitting Buddha. Like most temples women are not allowed in the front near the Buddha so I stood back and observed all the praying women while the men went up.

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We then drove to U Bein Wooden Bridge. It’s made from timber and is the longest wooden bridge in the world. Our local and his cousin sat behind while Italy and I walked the bridge. If you walked regularly it would probably take about 20 minutes to get from one end to the other, but we stopped continuously along the way to watch the fisherman. There were local fisherman fully dressed (some with helmets) standing in the middle of the lake with fishing rods not making a single move. The better fisherman had a string of alive fish attached next to them. Apparently they stand there from sunrise to sunset daily.

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After our stroll we headed back to the boys. I got a coconut and tried the dried mutton that was already on the table. When our local paid the restaurant didn’t have enough change so they offered him a cigarette instead.

After the bridge we went to a liquor store and the local bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker Platinum, which apparently was released in 2015. We then drove to Mandalay White House Hotel for a “pool party.” A DJ party next to a pool. There were two other older westerners there who were guests of the hotel but Italy and I were definitely the ones the locals were looking at. We went through a few bottles of Johnnie Walker that night.

The next morning Italy left for Bangkok and our local picked me up at noon for a day outside the city with his cousin and dj friend tagging along. We drove to a local restaurant outside of the city. The restaurant is known for serving different types of meats and that day they had mountain goat, rabbit, hog, mountain cat, deer, and snake. We got dried goat, rabbit, hog and fried eel. We also got Myanmar beer’s of course.

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After lunch we drove on winding mountain roads to Pyin Oo Lwin city. We went to the small waterfall, which was more like a multi-level babbling brook. However there was a old wooden bridge there that was fun to run across.

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We then went to the national park, to the botanical gardens. We walked around a massive landscaped park area that had a pond. There were musicians playing on one side and local tourists lounging around. We went to a coffee shop inside the park and I had a cappuccino which almost tasted legit- too much milk and cold.

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Later that night I went to see the Moustache Brothers with a guy from my hostel. The brothers became famous in the 90s as comedians who repeatedly made fun of the Myanmar government which led them to prison more than once. The main brother passed away last year but the second brother still runs the show from their house downtown. He’s the MC, his cousin (the third “brother”) is a clown, and his wife and sisters are traditional dancers. The show itself wasn’t that amazing but the brothers personality shines. It was great seeing locals go against the government and risk their lives to do so.

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Fyi. The locals here love Obama. He’s visited twice since being in office and whenever someone finds out I’m from America they just scream Obama in my face in a jolly way.

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The next day I bicycled to Mandalay Hill with a guy from southern France. We drove throughout all the temples near the hill (didn’t actually go inside any) then parked our bikes and made the long walking journey up. The walkway stairs had multiple levels of temples. Every time we thought we were at the top we weren’t. When we did eventually reach the top we thought the view was terrible. All I could see was pollution in the air. I decided to take my photographs halfway down when I could actually see what was in the city.

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We then biked to Amaravarti Spa to get massages. I got a Thai massage which was incredible. Along the way we saw a group of about ten cows walking in the middle of the Main Street. They were completely on their own and stopped at a local deli to try and break open the pastry wrappers sitting in the front. It was absolutely hilarious. We had to stop just to laugh as the store women came running and screaming down to the street.

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The next day I just chilled around at the hostel with a few other people who were also leaving later that night. We drank some beers and feasted of free peanuts and watermelon.

I splurged on the VIP bus to Yangon. The bus had reclining seats and mini-tv’s like an airplane; however, the movies were all bootleg AVI films most of them completely un-watchable. When the bus started the stewardess handed out orange soda and pastries then sang a song in a soothing voice.

I got to Yangon at 6am and headed straight for the airport. The cabbie took a short cut and drove through Okkalarpa village on the way which was especially rural and cute. I left the airport terminal since I couldn’t check in for another 10 hours and headed across the street to Food Center and camped out there for a couple of hours, then I went to the airport hotel to see if they rented rooms hourly. The receptionist was incredibly rude to me and tried to charge me $50 for 5 hours, which is a rip off and I did not do. I later asked if I could use the wifi and she said $5 for an hour, which is also insane. I didn’t pay for anything but chose to camp out in that lobby versus the airport for a few hours. Later I caught a flight to Kuala Lumpur at 7pm that landed at 11pm. I was planning to sleep in KL’s airport in terminal 2 but I was forced through immigration and couldn’t get back in. I ended up renting a Capsule bed in the airport for $30 for 12 hours. It was expensive but I just had to. And the hotel was actually really cool. Storage containers are transformed into double decker capsule beds, and bathrooms are also in containers. The color scheme was turquoise, yellow, black and teak, which made the whole thing look modern and relaxing.

I woke up and caught a flight to Penang at 1:30pm the next day.

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam – Halong Bay

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To see Halong Bay we decided to stay on Cat Ba Island, which is directly next to the bay and not too touristy. We stayed at Cat Ba Hostel. Originally we booked a dorm but the hostel was almost empty so we convinced them to give us double rooms for the same price as the dorm, $3 each. I roomed with Scotland.

The town is very small. One strip of restaurants and guesthouses/hotels along the bay with vertical streets going inward towards land. Our hostel was at the top of one of the vertical streets. In the summer the town is supposedly packed with tourists and backpackers. There’s an island feel mixed into this fishing village. But now it’s deserted. We did get very lucky with weather but it’s still winter here.

We picked up two Brits on the ferry to Cat Ba. Now we just need an Irish and I’ll officially be with the whole UK crew.

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Our first day after checking in we walked to the beach, which is about a 10 minute walk from town. It was our first official view of the bay. We stayed long enough to drink one large beer but left because it really wasn’t warm enough to be there- the wind was too cold. On our walk back to town we stopped at an outdoor cafe/bar that was in the sun and out of the wind. We had a free cocktail then a few rounds of beer while sunbathing and playing pool.

That night we went to Good Bar, then Rose Bar, the two backpacker bars in town. Good Bar is on the third floor of a waterfront restaurant. The interior is stone and felt like the perfect atmosphere for a winter bar. The cocktails are legit made with fresh fruit juice, and they’re two for one. Rose Bar is the late night dingy spot.

Our second day we rented scooters- I rode on Scotland’s since I can’t bike. We drove through a small local town behind the touristy waterfront section. Up through the mountains on newly paved roads. We stopped at Hospital Cave, a small cave developed with during the war for Vietnamese to hide from bombers. The cave was 3 floors. The bottom floor is cement rooms- the meeting room, the cinema room, the washing room, the dining room, the hospital, etc. The second floor is a huge open cave, and the third floor (which we couldn’t go to) is a small room that generals used for their meetings. The floors are set-up like a labyrinth, so when you’re on the first floor you can actually be right below the third floor. Incredibly smart and spacious.

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After the cave we drove to the National Park. We did the short hike up to Nam Lam Peak- one hour total. The hike wasn’t too bad and the view was incredible. Lush green mountains surrounded us.

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We hopped back onto our bikes and tried to get to the Cannon before sunset. We made it but after learning it was $3 we decided against it. Not worth it after just being at a better view. So we decided to grab dinner at a local place in town. I had been excited to try the seafood which is supposed to be great on the bay but I was disappointed. I had Pho Tom, Pho with shrimp, but the shrimp were tiny and flavorless. Afterward we cleaned up and went back to Good Bar. I called it an early-ish night since we had to get up early the next day.

Up at 7:30am for breakfast and picked up at 8am for our day on Halong Bay. We drove to the port, which took less than 5 minutes. We boarded a boat and headed out to sea. The boat had an enclosed downstairs, and an open upstairs, half of which was a tarp we could lay on. We became friends with an Aussie and New Zealand girl on the tour, and the group of us spent most of the boat ride hanging out on the tarp. We drove for about 30 minutes past fishing villages (farms on the water) and landed on Monkey Island. We got off the boat directly on the beach and climbed up rocks to reach the top of the mountain on the beach. I wore flip flops which were awful to climb in (no warning there would be rock climbing or a hike.) At the top of the mountain there were two monkeys that joined us. One of them opened up a guys bag and grabbed an apple and piece of bread to snack on- the guy wasn’t quick enough to get them away.

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We hung out on the beach for about 30 minutes after the climb. I found 6 pieces of beach glass including an aqua piece. Most of the pieces are green; I’m assuming they’re from Saigon bottles.

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About an hour later we reached Halong Bay from Cat Ba Bay, although we couldn’t tell the difference. We canoed through Halong Bay for a while going through caves. After canoeing we had a seafood spread lunch on the boat. Steamed shrimp, fish, tofu, sautéed cabbage, spring rolls and rice. We then laid out on the tarp sunbathing for half an hour before the boat took off again. However, the boat only drive for about 20 minutes and then it stopped again for another 30 minutes. We parked next to another boat like ours and the workers all played cards and drank together. We just relaxed and played cards in the sun. The UK boy jumped in the water but it was too cold for swimming.

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On the way home (about a 2 hour journey) we stopped at one of the fish farms and were able to walk around. Imagine a very narrow (less than two feet wide) boardwalk grid above the water, and in each of the squares is a massive net keeping the fish in. The fish are raised here. We saw all types of fish, some tiny and some that looked like mini-sharks. The boardwalk pathway was staying afloat by sitting on top of plastic canisters. Needless to say it was a wobbly walk, and my fears were heightened when I tripped over my own flip flops.

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We went out hard that night since we didn’t have to wake up for anything the next day. First Oasis for half price daiquiris, then Good Bar where I drank 2-for-1 fresh passion fruit mojitos and the bartender split a cantaloupe shisha with me. I met a few Americans who are in Vietnam for a week on business- they’re in the shit business, engineers making toilets. We all went to Marigold Club, which was empty except with a few local men who insisted on taking photos and videos with me/us non-stop. Danced on stage for a bit then headed back to Good Bar until we finally got kicked out because it closed. A great night.

I woke up the next afternoon and headed down to the waterfront for lunch. I walked around the lake on the far side of town then settled into an outdoor table in the sun at My Way Cafe for some fresh seafood. I ordered grilled squid and a tomato salad. The squid was amazing- grilled with chopped garlic, ginger and chili peppers.

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After lunch I walked through the local market looking for my typical fruit snack and a big a sweatshirt for Sapa. The market was typical for a town, a small section for fruit and vegetables, and another small section for clothes and accessories. Most of the fruit didn’t appeal to me; there are no papayas in the cold and the dragon fruit wasn’t ripe. However, I couldn’t stand to casually walk through the market like I usually do. I was the only person shopping at that time of day and every single stand owner was screaming at my to buy bananas while throwing green unripened bananas in my face. It became too much to stand so I quickly left.

Across the street I ran into Scotland and we decided to go for massages. We went to Foot Therapy above Kiwi Bar and both got an hour back, neck and head massage. They took us to the top floor of the bar and we each laid down on an actual bed and got massaged.

That night all of us went for a big seafood dinner at Phong Phong Restaurant, which I found on trip advisor. I ordered boiled green vegetables and grilled scallops. The waiter first brought me out a plate of white cabbage dripping with oil. I sent it back saying that this vegetable is not green and can I please have the boiled spinach instead. Next the waiter brought me out a plate of steamed clams with sweet and sour sauce, yet another translation mistake. I sent back the clams for grilled squid, which was difficult since the waiter was convinced he brought me scallops. More than halfway through my squid the waiter brought me a plate of broccoli in oyster sauce. Not what I ordered either but I didn’t complain; the broccoli was delicious. The squid on the other hand was not. It was supposed to be grilled with a lemon garlic sauce and instead was grilled then doused with a sweet jam like sauce. The restaurant forgot to charge me for the broccoli but I didn’t tell them. The entire meal was slow and stressed me out, so I felt better knowing something was free.

After dinner we went back to Oasis Bar where I got a peppermint tea and a coconut- I took the day off from drinking. There was a “Marnie the dog” look-a-like there who was in a serious need of a haircut. I called it an early night and went home a little after midnight to read. Yes, that’s an early night.

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