Ha Long Bay. Amazing scenery, astounding scams and amazingly drunk captains.
Where do I start!? I guess it will have to be at the beginning and that way I can save the best for last. This may take a while.Our minibus journey to the dock where we were to meet our boat would have been completely eventless if it wasn't for the 7 Englishmen (and women) who held the bus up while they fought with their hotel owner about the rate of their room. Whenever we're planning an early bus trip, Paul and I endeavour to check out extra early in case of a dispute over the balance. The Englishmen were arguing that their room should be cheaper than the agreed price because of a broken shower, and the hotel guy was saying had they reported the problem he could have put them in another room. This went on for half an hour. Half of the English crew had already boarded the bus, and were verbally abusing the driver every time he tried to move the bus, who despite being unable to speak English, fully understood their tone. We were parked illegally and the police were making their way towards us and the driver was understandably panicking. This small detail escaped the English and they were convinced that the driver was trying to leave without their friends.
So, an hour late we are finally on our way. Three hours later we are at the dock and a few extra people join our group and we get a new guide. More seemingly needless waiting and we finally board an ok-looking boat. Lunch is served. Paul, my hero, politely demands to know where the vegetarian food is (we booked this in advance) and our guide points to the dish of plain rice, some french fries, some slices of cucumber and a plate of spring rolls. "Vegetarian, Vegetarian, Vegetarian, Vegetarian." Great, I say.
Of the four or five scheduled activities, we end up doing only two of them. The first is a visit to a pretty massive cave, that has disco lighting, suspiciously unnatural pathways and water fountains, and some bins that look like penguins.