welcome to the wonderfull world of mass tourism.
After two days of cycling we have reached one of the tourist Mecca's of Vietnam: Ha Long Bay, famous for it's beautiful Karst mountains in the water. And beautiful it is! So after two weeks of cycling and seeing literally not even one tourist now we are in the middle of it all. This has the usual (doubtful) advantages of banana pancake breakfasts and more than plenty of opportunity to speak Dutch.... and the usual disadvantages of people pulling you into restaurants and hotels, agressive sales techniques and the general way of being treated as cattle. But hey, it is all worth it as it is truly amazing here. we have based ourselves on Cat ba island which is small and relatively relaxed.
We have allowed ourselves the luxury of doing absolutely nothing on our first day here. Sit on the balcony, read a book, drink a tea. Small walk to beach, and back....and other such highly exiting stuff. We washed our clothes and bikes, both of which were more than a little necesarry although amongst all these neo hippy backpackers you hardly noticed that we smelled.... after a day of cycling through coal mine area our bikes were covered in sticky black coal dust and so were we....it proved pretty hard to get rid of.
Today we hiked through the national park and the good news is that our upper legs now feel remotely normal again. Cycling 1000km in 11 days took its toll and walking the two sets of stairs to our hotel room left us in total agony two days ago, substantial pain yesterday and only minor discomfort today. Yippee this means we are ready to take off again tomorrow!
Before we forget: a happy new year to all of you! We are going to throw ourselves into the mad party scene of Catba Island...... there must be something on somewhere.
This is not a Vietnamese party....they hold their horses for the much bigger chinese new year festival (tet festival) 6 weeks from now. So we are relying on the gweilo here to make it happen. We ran in to one of the 3 foreign business owners, an English hotel owner, two days ago. He claimed to already have organised the christmas dinner so feels it is not his turn. The Kiwi bar owner next door claims he wants to party himself and will therefore close shop well before 12. All eyes are now set on the one remaining Australian bar owner who is actually stupid enough to be out of town which will almost certainly turn his bar into the big party place tonight...... let's see.
Have a good one everyone!