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The Full Moon Party Koh Phangnan

Pink Buckets and Neon Paint = no sleep

rain 28 °C

There is so much hype about this party and yes we have been to it before but being on our last leg of our trip Chloe wanted to go one more time to party it out.

We thought it would also be a good opportunity to grab some rays to top the tan up, actually to get a tan as we hadn't been beaching it for some time now.  Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we were there, being rainy season of course it did.  But it's still hot and if you go at the right time you can get an amazing tan on one of the many beautiful beaches. It's not all about the Full Moon there is a lot to see on the island....it really is lovely.

We made our way from Langkawi taking the ferry to Satun apx 23 ringgit, a taxi to the bus station apx 20baht, a bus to Surit Thani (5hrs) 123 baht, another taxi to the ferry 20 baht and finally the night ferry to Koh Phagnan 400 baht.  Far cheaper than going via an organised tour, ours cost about 16 quid each, the tour would have been 40 quid.  On the overnight ferry is a long line of foam mattresses pushed together as beds with your allocated number on, believe me it's very cozy...you could be sleeping next to anyone!  Not really my thing but it had to be done and I knew I wouldn't be getting any sleep so it didn't matter too much.    We spoke to a few people who were literally weeks into their trip which made me feel sooo envious.....because I knew what was ahead of them.....ahead off me.....9 days before we went home.

When we got in it started to pour down with rain and it was 6am, we hadn't booked anywhere and everywhere was shut.   Rushing through the rain we bumbed into two guys from Switzerland making their way back from a party, there's a party every night in this place.  They kindly invited to 'house' us until everything opened  but we decided to get some food instead of sleep so thanked them and ventured into the rain again.  We made our way to Mama Schnitzels....a restaurant open 24 hrs that has a menu like a book....Gordon Ramsey would have a fit if he saw the amount of dishes each restaurant offers in this place....seriously what ever you want they have it.....even during power cuts, they just flick on the generator and kitchen is open.  We struggled finishing our food because of the large portions and made our way to Haad Rin bungalows which have good rooms near to the beach at decent prices, we opted for tv and air con which was abit more but a blessing later in the stay!  1200 baht but you can get a fan room for 400.  To get this place go to the 7/11 on the corner opposite the clinic and pharmacy.....it's very central.

"Open at 10" one local told us and invited us into his bar, we had to go in because of the rain.  Our rucksacks were wet through and later the smell of our clothes.....awful....the joys of back packing!  Inside the bar were left overs from the night before....one guy asleep on a ledge and another sprawled across aload of cushions!

At about 8am we got our room and went to sleep...bliss.  The evening was to go to the beach bar Cactus which is where everyone goes, we bumbed into the Swiss guys again so it was nice to talk to someone.  Infact, I ended up spending a few evenings with them until they left, very good company so thank you guys, especially Patrick.

Now back to the full moon....practically everyone wears neon stuff, tops, shorts, paint, jewellery etc you name it, it can be painted on you in neon colours.  You've got to be careful not to get it on the bedding or else they will fine you!    I painted flowers down Chloe's arm and I was lazy so just puts pink dots on my legs....simple.    The streets are full of venders selling all sorts of food which can be out on their stall for hours.....and hours.  The party is much the same as the other nights except on the full moon .....it is packed!!!  People come over from the other islands especially.  

There is a lot of talk about drugs, fights and even deaths, luckily we didn't see anything like this....considering the amount of people there its controlled well....by the people there....this time I didn't see any police.  A guy staying near us was hit in the face and needed stitches to his cheek....he had a huge black eye!

The thing to buy are buckets....like a bucket you would make a sandcastle from, they are filled with vodka or whiskey and topped us with coke, lychee, sprite etc  all for 150 baht (3quid)  all you see around is people wearing neon and carrying pink buckets.

Being as busy as it was I lost Chloe and so I stayed in one spot .....as discussed....but she never came back for me (ummmmm) ....as unbeknown to me she was at the medical centre helping the guy get his cheek stitched up.  So I ended up chatting to a stall vender who made jewellery, very interesting but I did wonder if he was mistaking my 'chat' for 'interest' so when he asked if I wanted to go to the party with him....I lied.....yes....I told him I was tired.  My plan was to go back to my room, wait abit, then go out, but he insisted on walking me back to my room, so I was quite relieved to see Patrick knocking on our door when I got there.

So I did the best thing and went off to the party with Patrick and found Chloe.  It was a crazy evening as we decided to go sit on our porch instead of going to the after party, which starts at about 6 am.  In the end everyone left and it was me....wide awake and Chloe sound asleep.  Later I was woken to moaning.....Chloe....in pain...unfortunately she had a slice of pizza from one of the stalls and now she was paying for it, she was so sick and had stomach cramps for the following two days/nights which meant I was stuck in the room being nurse, which is where the TV came into play.  Not what either of us had in mind.

We had to stay an extra day because she was ill, I went to the chemist and they told me many had been in for the same meds....clearly the street food at 3/4/5/6 am....which is put out at 7pm.  So a revisit to Koh Tao was cancelled and now we were making our way to Bangkok for the grand finalle which is going to be grand ....as we are going to stay in a 5 star hotel by the river just for some plush.  But first we have to do an overnight train and a ferry.......I'm thinking we will look like riff raff going into the lovely hotel....it's times like this I wish I had my heels, perfume, hair dryer, clothes.......my stuff, but there's going to be plenty of time for that in a few days time......yikes.....where has the time gone?

Tips for the full moon:  don't wear anything you really like...it'll get ruined by the paint.

Watch your money.... 1000 baht looks like 100 baht in the dark

Careful with the buckets, they are quite strong

Look upto the sky, when we were there there was a perfect ring around the moon....never seen anything like it.

Don't swim in the sea at the party....it's more wee than sea!

Have fun!

Heres a link to the ferry times to help with transfers to Koh Tao, Surit Thani and Koh Samui

http://www.koh-phangan.tv/ferry/kohphanganferrytimetables.html

Posted by Vicky Bailey 17:46 Archived in Thailand Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beach travel ferry langkawi journey mother_daughter blog buckets world_trip full_moon_party surit_thani chloe_bailey Comments (0)

Gilli Trawangan

Gilli T the party island

overcast 31 °C

Gilli T

We left Lombok by taking the fast boat which appeared much safer than the over loaded slow boat, the bonus for us was being able to get a room before the others.

It was boiling hot carrying our bags so the breeze and splashing of the waves were welcome. We were looking forward to Gilli Islands as we were quite bored in 'quiet Lombok'.

As soon as we stepped into the main street we were approached by young lads "looking for room? I have....good price." We were dragged around the place being shown room after room. We told them we wanted aircon, but still they showed us fan rooms one after the other. I was getting annoyed, I get fed up of getting pestered, I know what we are looking for and yet despite the promises of "yes we have aircon" we get there and suprise suprise there is none! In the end I politely tell them we will find our own room. Which we did and it was perfect ....big bathroom albeit with crazy magic eye tiles, large flatscreen tv and a dvd player plus aircon all for about £12 pn.

Now Gilli T is the party island so at night it comes into its own. There isn't much to do aside swim, scuba and party. Soo many people....mostly drunk but again.....no fights or problems like there is in the UK. Could be the type of people that travel? I'm not sure but it makes you think.

As females, not sure if the guys had this, but you can't walk ANYWHERE without the local lads shouting at you "Hey beautiful hair" "I love you" "Hey sexy" I could go on and on....all directed at Chloe of course....I got "mama hello" It got really tiresome after a day plus the rest of Indonesia. Having spent time in Thailand and Malaysia we've found the Indonesian lads to be very forward, suggestive and too pervy....they've definitely got some front, far too much!

The guy running our room was a character, he was about 5'2 and as skinny as a rake constantly telling us how many hours sleep he had "I sleep 1 hr last night, I work too much, I have no money." I found this hard to believe as he had a shop which was UK prices plus he always had enough for beer and fags!

We went to a bar one night and we spotted a local old guy who was a miniature version of Morgan Freeman, he followed us around like a body guard getting rid of any overkeen local lads. Unfortunately and shockingly he ended up going up to Chloe and licking her face followed by exposing himself. I went nuts (so to speak) and sent him packing.....seriously what is wrong with these guys!

We were in the street food market and two guys from Peru came and asked where we were from...UK we told them, "where in the UK?"

"oh a small town very south" we replied
"Nr Southampton?" They asked."Weymouth?"

Can you believe that....they were part of the Olympic Sailing Team and knew all about our Town! They invited us to go to an open night in a new bar so we tagged along.

Funny night it was because I then spotted Chloe chatting to a guy, I went over and after explaining I was her mother, always an interesting response, the guy...Mark... had an odd look on his face. "Do you write a blog?" He asked me. Turns out he read one of our blogs after trying to find a route in Malaysia. That was a first for us, so we aptly named him Bloggers! We met his friend James too, both legends. We had a great evening, mainly watching Mark who fell asleep at the bar....then fell asleep at the restaurant ha ha ha.

I had a heated debate with a guy called Teddy, who repeatedly told us he had been in Gilli for 4 months. In the end he refused to speak to me! Completely blanking me. So what was the debate ....compressed air being used as fuel.....his view was that it would be free, my view was it could never be free as there would be compression stations etc where you would have to buy the 'free air' bla bla bla....... Anyways....the night turned to day so quick! Cheers for a great night guys....including you Teddy....jerk....if you can't take the heat don't debate!

We took cycles out to tour the island which is a half possibility as the other half of the island path is sand. Ever cycled in sand? It's impossible!

We rented masks and snorkles but were disappointed in the marine life....scarce....in comparison to Perhentians, Tioman and Borneo.

I went on a protest in Gilli as the entire street is full of bars/restaurants.....90% of which will charge an additional between 10 to 21% of the bill in Government tax. The other 10% not including the street market don't charge a penny. I asked about it and no one could give me an explanation. How can one place charge 10% and another charge 21%? It makes a difference to the bill! We went to eat at Scallywags, which is highly recommended with a 21% tax charge and one of the most expensive places to eat. We wanted an egg roll...simple yeah? They had sausage, chicken and egg but would not make us an egg roll. What? I said just leave out the meat and bring the egg....."Sorry can not the chef say no." So we left after trying to get them to understand for 15 minutes....classic case of computer says no!

We had a great time on Gilli T the time flew and we met some great people. Also a hello to Bonny who despite telling us they had work early the nxt day.....stayed out till gone 5am.....ha ha ha!

Our next route was to be a huge mistake.....Labuan Bajo.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 03:19 Archived in Indonesia Tagged travel restaurants ferry lombok journey mother_daughter blog world_trip slow_boat gilli labuan_bajo chloe_bailey gilli_t government_tax snorkles island_trip Comments (0)

Gilli Trawangan to Labuan Bajo

Don't take the boat....fly instead!

semi-overcast 32 °C

Gilli T to Labuan Bajo......For the brave!

I decided to dedicate a blog specifically to this trip as it has to be the worst trip we have taken in all of our travelling and people should know which way to get there. Boat or fly? If you are hard core and want to take the boat then read on.

We had 3 weeks left in Indonesia and were torn where to go so after flicking through the Lonely Planet and trawling the Internet I decided to take one of the advertised trips on Gilli T to Labuan Bajo in Flores.  It looked great from the Internet photos and ideal for snorkelling and diving.  The trip was for 400,000 each apx £ 24 each.  This is the one we went for and here is how it went.....

Day 1
0815 told to be at the pier for the boat, which we were, however what they meant was the beach further down away from the pier, luckily at 0813 someone came and told us!  We got checked in at the ticket office, this made me wonder if it's cheaper to buy your tickets there....check it, it's on the beach.

The boat is the same  slow boat to Bangsal Lombok but is crammed full of people, luckily the waves weren't too bad but still the boat was tipping quite far to the left (our side).  This took about an hour and we got off to shouts of "TICKETS"  I was relieved we didn't have to go through the bartering process again.....WRONG.....I showed our ticket "Yes, yes come with me"  I looked around for our bus....but it wasn't there.  

Scam....there're horse and carts that want to take you to the bus, which is in a car park about an easy 10 minute walk up the road.  This guy was not from the tour company but was a cart taxi wanting 50,000.  Chloe was feeling the weight of her bag and didn't want to walk so I told him I only had 20,000 take it or leave it....he took it and after 3 minutes at the most we got there, then had to wait.

1030am    The mini bus came to get us after was had waited about 40 minutes.  It was a comfy ride through Lombok to Sengiggi dropping others off and were then taken to Mataram arriving at about 1130 by the side of a road and shops.  We were told we were to wait for another bus which would take us to the bus station by a guy who said he was the owner of the company.  He asked us for our tickets....which were taken by the first driver....luckily he gave us more and told us not to give them to anyone else and not to give anyone else any money for the journey even if they insist....bloody scammers. He also told us there was no other way back but through his company....rubbish again.

1150  Mini bus took us to the bus station which was 10 minutes away.  We were told we had to wait til 1500 til we left and how unusual it was to have tourists in the bus station.  This soon became apparent as we were surrounded by men and young teenage lads.....3 hours of this!  They got the guitar out and had a sing song. I asked why so many men just sat around a the bus station, were they waiting for a bus? Yes and no....they are not going anywhere they wait for the bus so they can get on to sell stuff and to sing for money.....that's their daily income. We told them we wanted to go to the market and guess what....they came too insisting we buy all sorts of things, which we didn't.

1500hrs bus came and we got on.....again bombarded by guys asking for money and food, names, where were we going etc.  one guy who must have been about 60 took an uneasy liking to Chloe and when I eventually told him to leave her alone he told me I was ugly....ha ha....he continued for the entire journey, he was a right pain in the arse.

We were told the bus was air con with a toilet, but within half an hour they had made god knows how many stops picking up sacks of rice, boxes with live birds in etc all stacked neatly against the toilet door.  This stuff didn't move the entire journey....so no toilet.....on this VIP bus...

1800hrs we took the ferry from Labuhan to Poto Tano Subawa.   This was about a 2 hour trip.  We were told we would stop at 2200 for food which we did, however, I wish we hadn't!

2200hrs  food stop....rice and veg in a watery soup......remember this.

2230hrs Back on the road with the pain in the arse old guy still going on and on....he did this til 0300 so we didn't sleep, he kept shinning his torch in our eyes...."awake Misses?" even the French guy sat next to him told him where to go!

Day 2
0300 to 0500hrs sat waiting in a car park in a small and very uncomfortable bus......with lots of local lads....they asked us for money for the trip and we had to insist again we were not paying as the ticket was included and eventually they said ok.

0500 to 0700hrs same small crammed full local bus to dock at Sape.  Sape fields were amazing!  We got off the bus and were waved over to walk toward the ferry.  The ferry left at 0800 so we decided to get on early....this was a good idea.

0800hrs rented a mat to lie on, another a good idea, for 20,000  .......the ferry was a nightmare!  This is when the cafe meal from the night before came into force.....major stomach cramps....both of us for the entire trip.  We tried to sleep but it's difficult to explain this ferry.   Imagine 20 mats next to each other side by side and head to head...people picking up your drink and helping themselves, people sitting on your feet whilst you try and sleep, cockrals crowing, people coughing over you etc.

1830hrs Finally arrived!

So there you have it...thats travelling for you, don't go with Surabaya Indah!

Option two is to fly for £50 apx.....all done within a few hours.

Unfortunately, due to the sickness we were stuck in our accommodation for two weeks and the sickness lasted three weeks. We were too scared to go to the local hospital so kept hydrated with electrolites and the NHS website.

 

Posted by Vicky Bailey 05:47 Archived in Indonesia Tagged travel ferry mother_daughter blog gilli_trawangan world_trip sickness chloe_bailey labua_bajo electorlites surabaya_indahl how_to_get_to_labuan_bajo Comments (0)

Laos.....slow boat

Chiang Mai, Chiang Kong, Huay Xai, to Luang Prabang

sunny 27 °C

There is no easy way to get from Chiang Mai over to Laos without taking a few different methods of transport. The trips are widely advertised all over Thailand so we waited until we went to got to our guesthouse to buy the tickets. From this we knew we would be collected from Chiang Mai taken to Chiang Kong to stay there overnight and then take over the border into Laos.....simple....yes.....but what a long long journey. Some good tips here if you need to know.

We took the late bus as it was a mini bus with only 5 of us in there. The journey advertised loses an hour compared to all the others and I initially thought this would be because the roads would be quieter, however, it was because the driver thinks he is Sterling Moss and the best thing to do is buckle up and not look out of the windows otherwise you will be gripping the edge of your seat thinking that this will be your last trip ever. There are some serious close shaves and it doesn't help when you have a toilet stop the driver is swigging on some kind of cough medicine which is a common thing to give you a buzz .....like red bull. I would never touch the stuff but the driver told me that it would keep him awake, so bearing this in mind, we all climbed back into the bus....lives in his hands....with us gripping the seats. It's funny because if I was at home you wouldn't get me in this bus!

So we arrived an hour before....even went past our stop, he was buzzing that much, and our ticket included an nights accommodation with breakfast. The room was basic but nice with ensuite.....not Ritz...but who cares at 130am. Getting up at 7 was a killer though and the breakfast wasn't that enticing. We habit drummed into us that we would be leaving at 8 but we didn't leave til 9 and also they went on and on that there was no where to get food after leaving the guesthouse so we bought rolls and cushions for the boat ....they said the seats were like benches.....everyone bought cushions. We were taken from the guesthouse into the town and dumped off at a travel agency....that was step one. They took our passports....needed for the boat tickets and we had to wait to be collected about by tuk tuk and taken down the road and dropped at at the river where you take a small boat across the river into Huay Xai, Laos. You then queue with your boat group to get your visas....two forms to fill out, bish bash bosh and you're in. You will need passport photos and you can not get them done here. This takes forever....you then have to walk up a steep hill and get another tuk tuk which takes you to a cafe ......where incidently you can buy rolls.....get them here because the guesthouse ones were bloody awful! There are shops for drinks etc and more food so don't panic before.....you can walk down to the boat from here. The boat leaves at 1130.

When we got onto the boat we were told that we couldn't leave yet as more people were arriving, they literally pack you inline sardines....TIP.....GET THERE EARLY AND GET A SEAT.....we didn't see any hard benches just old car seats, which were comfy, so we purched ourselves down. Another tip.....we met Jo and Ashley in Goa who gave us the heads up on the boat, bearing in mind it's a two day trip....the scenery can become second nature.....bring beer, vodka...whatever.....so I bought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of coke with a few cans of beer to share around. We had a brilliant time on that boat....it was like a party! Got to know many people and the people we met on the boat were doing the same trip as us through Laos so we just kept meeting up.....it was lovely. It rained a lot of the way but we were verging on Monsoon season....plus if it was hot there I think the journey would be quite uncomfortable.

We arrived in Pakbeng about 6 or 7 pm and we all stayed in a guesthouse by the river but you have to walk up a very steep hill in the dark, now I'm not blaming the vodka but lack of sleep from the previous nights but there was no chance of me joining the group for dinner as I was absolutely shattered....I went to bed at 7ish and was out for the count. Chloe joined the group and had an amazing time....I missed out apparently! The guesthouse was part of the trip, you can opt to find your own place for less money but to be honest it's just not worth the hassle running around in the dark. there are plenty of guest houses and loads of free roomsobering much of a much so we went with our group. We got up for breakfast ordered rolls for the boat for day two which they forgot to do which made us late for the boat....remember what I said.....get there early....well because we weren't early we didn't have a seat...seriously....no seat for an all day journey. We had to sit on a step....I was not a happy bunny I can tell you especially as there was a Chinese lady...and I say that in the loosest term, with her bare feet up on a spare seat refusing to move them. This is considered very disrespectful in Asia as she should have known. Then her husband kept rubbing his arm against Chloe's leg and putting his stuff by my feet so I couldn't move.....I was getting agitated! I just about kept my cool!

This is when the cushions came in handy and chatting to people again takes your mind off the trip. I would definately recommend is journey over a bus ride any day.....think of it as a cruise down the Mekong River. We arrived in Luang Prabang just after 5pm from memory and were bombarded with tuk tuk drivers telling us all sorts of rubbish like you couldn't walk to the town because it's too far or that there are massive hills to walk up.....all rubbish....it's like a five minute walk to the town with ample accommodation. The next leg....... Is on its way....I've got some catching up to do!

Posted by Vicky Bailey 06:26 Archived in Laos Tagged travel river luang_prabang trip chiang_mai ferry journey mother_daughter blog world_trip slow_boat huay_xai back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing chiang_kong Comments (0)

Hue to Hanoi to Monkey Island and back to Hanoi

Celebrations in Hanoi for New Year

overcast 17 °C

We only spent a night in Hue as we were just stopping off on our way through to Hanoi. Hue is a large town with the Perfume river running through - again markets, shops, bars etc. We were tired and needed to get a good nights sleep so headed back to our hotel, which rated very high on trip advisor. Trip Advisor is my bible here and I am reluctant to stay in any place that hasn't got a good review score the problem is that many staff will put their own reviews on so the place will appear good on advisor but isn't so great. The hotel in Hue was ok but our room was damp although we were too tired to do anything about it and besides the staff were so nice I think if we had mentioned it they would have been mortified and I certainly didn't want to upset them - they were far to nice and would move the earth to make your stay comfortable.

We caught the train to Hanoi - yes we actually made it on time - but the train was late. We were on a sleeper train with a room to ourselves so we sat and watched Top Gear on the Ipad which was an hour well spent. I love Top Gear and despite what ive heard lately about Jeremy Clarkson - he is still brilliant in my eyes!

We arrived in Hanoi at 430am - and it was chilly. Immediately as ususal we are approached by about 20 taxi drivers all begging for your business to take you to a hotel. I had researched hard for this next bit of the trip but there was hardly any information on the internet to get us to Monkey Island which is a small Island off of Cat Ba Island within Ha Long Bay. I read up about getting the bus to Ha Long bay and then finding a boat to take us to the Island but it wasn't as simple as that. Having looked at everything the following happened at the bottom of this blog. (im putting it on here in hope that someone else might find it to make their trip easier).

As we walked through the back streets near the harbour we came across something I was hoping we wouldn't see, a meat market. There were live ducks sat on the ground feet bound together as were chickens. Live fish flapping on the pavement as they await to go onto the wooden block to be chopped with a hacking blade from the woman cutting them up. Being vegetarian I can't get my head round this, its just something I could never do, same as some meat eaters they couldn't do the killing but they can eat it. Each to their own though - but I can't change my mind on this im sure there must be a better way.

We got a taxi to the hydrofoil and then we were off cutting through the water as if we were a hot knife in butter. So far all had gone well, we caught the train on time, we woke up on time, we got off on the right stop, our taxi driver didn't con us, we got onto the ferry all was going so well - too well! CRASH!! "What the hell was that?" I shouted to Maggie who was sat up front with the biggest window infront of her. "We just went over a boat and there were people on it!!" I jumped out of my seat - wondering if to put on the life jacket - we were still moving - at the same speed. I was waiting for the boat to tip and wondering if Maggie had got it right or was kidding me. I heard a lot of shouting so I got up to go to the top deck where the staff were gathering "SIT DOWN" was shouted to me.

Going off on a tangent now - I watched a programme once about how people do what they are told when they dont particulary know anyone else or they follow what the general concensus is- they studied this when a large group of people were killed in a fire despite the alarms going off etc. The example they used was they tricked people into thinking they were applying for a role in a play (I think that was the scenario). They were all sat in a large room like a class room with chairs and desks. They started the fire alarm and the people began to talk amongst themselves but no one moved, then they put smoke under the door into the classroom. Bearing in mind no one knew in the classroom that this was a trick they still didn't move. One man began to panic and tell everyone that maybe they should get out and leave the room. There were conversations about no one coming in to get/warn them etc but only one man in the group left. They said the group may not have survived. Funny how people just sit there and wait for someone to tell them what they should do.

Did I sit down - no! I pushed past them to get to the top of the deck to see if I could see ANYTHING.....a broken boat...people in the water....a concerned captains face who has seen a big hole in his boat. Nothing - no boat, no people - but huge panic on the captains face. Lots of radios and mobile phone calls around me from the staff - "SIT DOWN LADY - SIT DOWN" I still wasnt comfortable with this so stayed up deck. I could see that we were now reversing this after a good five minutes after the crash. I still couldn't see anything, we hadn't sunk and I went downstairs to update everyone. We then went forward back on track of our journey - speaking to the staff didn't help - they either didn't understand the English or they didn't want to talk about it. I was told the week before how unimportant taking a life is in Vietnam and I couldn't quite fathom that - surely they wouldn't just sail over a boat with people in and leave them to drown? No Coastguard here though and from what I witnessed no one cared. It was horrible - and I still don't know if anyone died.

When we arrived at Monkey Island I spoke to the Manager, she spoke excellent English, she repeated to me about how low life is thought of and yes people may have died - it happens a lot she said. I thought about researching it on the internet - maybe it would be in their local paper - but then what could I do.

Monkey Island is a very small island which has been turned into a resort with Bungalow huts which are right on the beach - they are truely beautiful. There is a large area as a restaurant/bar and play area. Staying here though you are prime for high prices $5 for chips (small portion) $5 for this $5 for that .....very expensive with a small menu.

We had a stroke of luck when one of the employees took us out on his friends boat for 2 quid each from memory into part of Ha Long to kayak through the limestone peaks. This was fantastic and a time when you just stop paddling and sit back admiring the view. Looking at floating houses (tin huts) resting on large polystyrine blocks and bamboo paths. Dogs on the small housing blocks barking at the boats going by. The quietness of large rocks reaching out of the sea. "VICKY, VICKY, CKY, CKY, CKY, cky ky" I hear as my name is shouted out echoing out around the peaks. We all start shouting random things listening to where our voices reach. There are crab pots underneath the water as many as the sea bed and passing some of the floating houses the stench of fish is too much but this is their living here. We were invited to go into a cave which we jumped at, a small boat ride ducking under the stalag - tites? or mites? They invited us to look at their accommodation they were building for their cave. Build and they will come - I remember thinking. I wonder if they will come though - they have called it Bamboo Island. The paths are made of carved bamboo, the railings which protect you from falling into the sea and the rocky ground underneath are made out of plumbing pipes painted black!! So not save - but you soon learn that health and safety doesn't exist in South East Asia!! The beds are concrete with a thin bamboo layer with a blanket ontop. I won't be staying there anytime soon.

Our journey back to Hanoi went well but took quite some time apart from our taxi driver who gave us the meter price, he hid some of the money under his leg and told us we hadn't given him enough despite we needed change. Chloe was sat in the front of the car and told me she could see it sticking out from his leg. I leant over and saw the money - I was cross and pointed to the money and he put his hands up as if he did't know what I was talking about. I leant further pointing and saw the shame on his face - I was shouting at him at this point and smacked his hand as if he was a bad behaved child (can't believe I did that!) he gave me the money back that we could see but he was sat on more we think because he wouldn't budge from his seat. We got the bulk of it back luckily.

We had an enjoyable stay in Hanoi -- there was so much to see and not enough time. We walked around the lake which had been decorated on the banks with floral displays, some rather odd and some quite facinating.

New Year Eve we spent in the main square by the lake where they had erected a large platform stage where there was a man singing and ladies dancing. The crowds were going mad!! Jumping up and down to the music thrusting their arms in the air - they didn't sing to the songs though - all English Songs - then Chloe said "Thats Lemar" Now I vaguely remember the name and there is no way I can repeat what Maggie said incase anyone is offended! Turns out it was Lemar. What was he doing singing in Hanoi New Years Eve - how odd! The group around us were really friendly wanting to hold our English hands and hug us. They warned us of the pick pocketers around and pointed out a group or trendy looking lads with the latest hair cuts - bad lads - thieves thats how they afford their clothes etc.

Come 1230am all was over - they were leaving - so unlike UK - this is when the party would start. Not in Hanoi - it was all over - time to go home - good night!

It was a good night too - and the last one we spent with Maggie and Ellen. The next day we were up early and at the airport ready to wave them back to the UK and we were getting ready for our trip to China. Worried about the lack of warm clothing we had and the weather reports of us going to Beijing which was a shivering 2 degrees. Fashion had gone out of the window what with me and Chloe wearing our Ski socks and our Merrill sandles with leggins on top.

I wondered if I would have a seat grabber on the plane behind me - but no - a new annoyance - the man infront of me spent most of the journey (4hrs) rolling his head around - Chloe managaged to film some of it - it made you feel abit dizzy. Otherwise it was a good flight.

We got off the plane and it was freezing!

How to get to Monkey Island.

1. Hanoi to Haphong (bus or taxi) we took taxi for 850 vnd - 1 1/2 hr at the most.

2. Ben Binh harbour Haphong - Cat Ba by hydrofoil - 150 vnd - 45 mins

3. Contact staff at Monkey Island to get a free boat to them.

The return trip was really difficult.

1. Boat to Cat Ba

2. Bus to another port on Cat Ba

3. Hydrofoil from Cat Ba to Haphong Ben Binh

I think from doing this it would have been easier to purchase a trip at HaLong Bay for the two nights, we didn't do this due to costs.

Sod that I thought - sit in my seat and then wait to drown if we sink....nope!

Posted by Vicky Bailey 21:57 Archived in Vietnam Tagged ferry journey mother_daughter blog world_trip back_packing vietname monkey_island chloe_bailey flash_packing hue_to_hanoi ben_binh Comments (0)

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