So where we left off...we met up with our friend Steve Kofford before we left Ha Long Bay to stay on CatBa Island for 2 nights. We took a boat all to ourselves out there, it was huge and wood and old. We stopped at this awesome cave, that was used during the war as a hospital. It was incredible and totally hidden. As we were boating out there, we were surrounded by these limestone islands covered in green trees everywhere--so pretty. Along the way, we stopped and kayaked for a couple hours through these islands and tunnels and caves. These Vietnamese people just live out there on floating houses and fish all their lives. The kids are adorable and would come out in little boats and play with us. But they live out there! Then on our way back, Steve was just peddling and his oar bent in two! Totally! It was a bad oar! We knew we'd have trouble when we got back and sure enough, they wanted $20 dollars for it!We spent 30 minutes arguing in different languages and finally gave them 100,000 dong, which is about $7 dollars. They're totally like that in this country. This girl was telling us that she watched a bike shop that would loosen their screws on the bikes so that they would break and charge the people more for it. It's ridiculous! Anyway, got to the island, got a hotel for $7 dollars a night, air conditioning which was nice, except it went out. The bathroom is one room and the shower head is just right by the toilet (which at least isn't a squatter--yay) so you can do both at the same time:) We had a great time on this island. It's just so 3rd-world to me. dirty and stinky and little kids squatting peeing into the streets. But SO beautiful at the same time. We rented motorbikes and biked around the WHOLE island. $5 bucks a bike for ALL day. Pretty sweet. We went to a beach, got sunburned, played baseball with the natives with a stick of wood and a little wood piece for the ball, explored the jungle on foot, so sweet. We did that all day. It was totally amazing.
When we were back in Hanoi, we decided to get on a sleeper bus which would take us down the whole Vietnam coast....not a good idea. It was way cheap so we thought it would be great, plus we could do the long 11 hour legs at night and just sleep. but no. We are so thankful to be alive, let's just say that. It was so small and stinky, 42 people on the bus sleeping. The bus was so bumpy and they just lay on their horn the whole time so you can't sleep, even with ear plugs. Half-way through the night we came across a tipped over bus and another bus that was out on the railroad tracks! The other bus driver had fallen asleep and ran right off the road and the bus was stuck on the railroad tracks!! They had to quickly evacuate the bus and all of them had to get on with us!! No room! They were on the floors between us, Brian and Callie bunked together, I had 2 stinky guys sleep right next to me. It was nuts. No sleep needless to say. But we made it safely to Hoi An where we are right now and then tomorrow see some sweet beaches.
Anyway! It's crazy, it's so cheap here. The food--oh my word. Let me just say I have probably already lost 7 pounds in 7 days. We always feel hungry, and I eat almost nothing. Things gross me out here so bad. Flies on everything, stinky, fish, squid, weird dirty things they've been trying to sell and recycle for days. Meals consist of plain sticky rice, a couple bits of fish, a bite of green stuff, coke to wash it down and fight germs, and maybe a taste of something that makes me stop eating all together. Everyone else has been pretty good though. We buy lots of Ritz crackers and we packed tons of granola bars which I am so thankful for. We're always sweating, my garments are always sticking to me. My hair is a curly snarly mess. My fingers are always sticky, I have bug bites all over..it's great! Haha, we really are having so much fun and we feel so safe. We love this. It's just still so surreal we're here and we have like 6 more weeks! Wow! We're washing our own clothes in the shower, taking lots of pictures and videos, bargaining all the time...it's great. O and a couple of nights ago, there was a HUGE storm that kept us up from 2am on. It was so loud and scary, but monsoon season is starting so I guess it's normal. The power was out all night so we were just hot and sweaty and wet and awake. Great great. And I guess there's another cyclone forming and headed to Thailand--Ah! Pray for us! We are feeling them already! And thanks for reading our little (well, LONG) journal! Love you all!
Ben & Camille
Ben & Camille