I found myself wondering how many modes of transport I’d be using to get from Ha Long Bay to Hoi An – as the short hop to Ninh Binh had taken a motorcycle and two buses.
Obviously, I started the day on the cruise ship. It was one of the smaller boats working the bay with room for only 24 passengers.
I had been very pleased when I discovered this on arrival. I had expected a larger boat though probably not the type of huge cruise liner that arrives at Mediterranean villages and carries three times the local population.
The last morning of the cruise started bright and early with tai chi on the sun deck – none of us had improved from the day before.
This was followed by a visit to a cave with our tour guide, Duc urging us on as quickly as possible to beat the crowds.
Sound advice. As more and more people climbed into the cave the temperature rose and it became quite stifling.
Returning to the ship, time to pack and then a cookery class, well a salad preparation class.
Yes, that sentence does make it sound like I lacked enthusiasm.
However, it was far more interesting than I expected. (Pessimism is good for you, trust me).
Unfortunately, it became far more intense than I had anticipated to be when Duc hauled me up to carve a tomato rose.
Never make eye contact.
“How do I do that?” I asked.
“Weren’t you WATCHING the chef?” he asked, appalled at my inattentiveness. “No,” I said, hoping I wasnt going to land myself with a tougher challenge when I explained: “I was watching you carve a swan out of the apple.”
In front of an audience of twenty, with a very sharp knife and no idea what I was doing… no pressure.
The chef, by the time I had made my small contribution, had carved three cucumber flowers and made the vase’s base in which to place the salad floristry.
I can’t see me being invited back to join the crew.
The trip back to Hanoi started with an apology from our bus tour guide, Peter, for a late departure. A road traffic collision on the road out of Hanoi had delayed the bus’s arrival into Ha Long City which meant a delayed start for us.
For the people travelling to Ha Long Bay to start their cruises, that must have been disappointing.
For me, travelling back to Hanoi to catch an evening train, I did not anticipate the delay causing me too many problems… at least I hoped it wouldn’t.
It didn’t. We were in Hanoi by 4.30pm but it was around 6pm before I was finally dropped off at the railway station… after taking everyone else to their hotels.
An unexpected tour of Hanoi for me.
The travel company I had booked my ticket through wanted me to call in at a hotel by the station to go through the process of how to use the railway station and board the train – a nice touch.
How did this work out? Tune in tomorrow for an update. Same bat time, same bat channel.