After getting onto the boat to cruise through Halong Bay enroute to our own private island in Cat Ong, our tour guide took us to the top deck to give us a rundown of the rules – “NO OUTSIDE ALCOHOL” was one of the few rules. Sure, that’s fair I thought. Ten minutes later I notice the Germans pull out a small flask. Okay sure a small flask whatever right? Then a minute later you see two large bottles of whiskey. These fucking guys, lol I love it! Our tour guide ultimately sees this but being the sweetheart she is, she agreed to not tell the captain of the boat! Much to the Germans delight, they started passing around the flask for all of us to drink.
In addition, these three are always either boozing or having a spliff. The morning after our first night, a night in which we all got completely smashed, I walk up to grab breakfast at 9am and there’s Tim, Jannes, and Thomas with another beer! “Their drinking is just infectious ain’t it” says Omar. We had a small hike adventure that afternoon and Tim barely made it. We came back to the cottage and Tim is laying on couch struggling to life. When it came time to board the boat to another island, Jannes bought 15 beers from the resort because he couldn’t risk not having beer for our hike up the Cat Ba national park mountain.
Once at the island, Tim asked our tour guide if we could stop quickly so he can buy some cigarettes…and the guy comes back out with a fucking carton! To be fair however, cigarettes were a serious ration on this trip so Tim did a smart thing. Unfortunate for him and everybody else who smokes, the carton got stolen by the bus driver! Tim noticed this but thought Thomas had grabbed it instead; “Thomas! Do you have the ciggys!?” Yelled Tim. Thomas, thinking Tim meant if he had a pack on him and not referring to the carton, responded “yes”.
I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone hike a mountain carrying a case of beer but these boys did just that. And by the time we reached the peak they were all completely smashed. I was actually nervous when Jannes and Tim were posing naked on the rock taking photos, as they were holding onto each other not staying very balanced.
These 3 Germans have so many more stories they shared with us from their time in Laos and Thailand that I could go on and on (like how Tim had a cast on for 6 weeks after breaking his hand in Thailand). I’m so glad to have met these 3 and this cruise wouldn’t have been the same without them. Safe travels my German friends!
With those 3 out of the way, let’s get back to this cruise. The tour is definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Vietnam. The scenery through Halong was breathtaking, and the cottage on the island of Cat Ong was simply amazing.
On the boat we were told they serve food, alcohol, and most importantly, cigarettes (because everybody on the boat except me and Aron smoked). However, as it turns out the boat did NOT have any cigarettes, which lead to everybody asking anybody for a ciggy. With cigarettes being ubiquitous in Vietnam, Omar said to the group “who would’ve thought cigarettes would be a ration here”.
After some diving and kayaking we made our way to the cottage, which from afar looked like a shit hole I won’t lie. After I got off the boat I saw the building and thought “fuck this is gonna be disgusting” but as you walk closer and closer you realize holy shit! It’s so nice! The main cottage building itself served as a place for people to play table tennis, drink, and dance. The bedrooms were in a separate area in bungalows which was surprisingly very nice. Despite sharing the bungalow with 7 others, it was still very spacious with the toilet and shower the best I’ve seen in Vietnam.
In the evening, we drank, played table tennis, chatted around a bonfire, then ended off the night by dancing on the small dance floor. It was this night that my mate Omar nearly got into a fight with two girls from Texas, USA. Omar is known to chirp a lot but all in good fun, even to the guys he’s always giving us a hard time but he’s a good sport in that he can take it back. But tonight, it didn’t go the way it normally goes…”she literally went mental on me mate. She was yelling ‘I’m going to rip that nose ring off of you (Omar just recently got a nose ring while drunk in Hanoi)’ and actually had to be held back by Vinny and Jannes!” Omar explained to me the next morning. I only know of Omar’s version and to be fair to the Americans I will leave out the version I heard of what happened that night.
Our tour on this night had 12 people on it, 4 of which chose the 3 day 2 night tour. Omar, Aron, and I originally booked only the 2 day 1 night but enjoyed the first night so much that we decided to extend it a night and join the 4 for a second night in which we slept on a boat. The boat is by no means a royal Caribbean cruise ship but it was still very comfortable. In the evening while having some beers on the top deck chatting away, Jannes can be heard saying in his thick German accent “FUUUUUUUCKK!! I left the weed on the island!!”. Luckily for all of us, our mate Shah had some left for all of us.
A quick story on Sam! 22 years old studying business administration at the University in Hanoi. “My family gave me two options after high school. Go to school or go get a boyfriend and marry then start a family. I choose to go to school. My sister choose another path and go start family. She’s 23 and have a baby boy now, so cute (proceeds to show me pictures)!” She then tells me how she will be forever single and no guy wants her. I told her next time I’m in Vietnam I will message her on Facebook to introduce me to her husband and kids. I gave her 5 years before she has a family to which she laughed and said “no way!!!”
The next morning we were joined for lunch by another tour group before leaving together back to Hanoi. Here are some of the people who joined our tour group.
We returned to Hanoi around 5pm and with it being Aron’s and Elli’s final night in Vietnam we decided to celebrate hard. We drank the free beers at our hostel from 6-7pm, grabbed dinner, then proceeded to drink some more at our hostel before bar hopping. We even convinced our tour guide Sam to join us at our hostel to party which she did so that fired us all up!