I wake up too the sound of rain. A lot of rain. Good thing I took as many pictures as possible yesterday. Never leave the photo till tomorrow! The one thing we missed not being on the boat was sunrise and sunset, but there would have been nothing to see this morning and last night was pretty grey too. We pack up to leave wondering what we would do today in the rain.
‘Do you want to go mountain biking in the rain?’ asks Chenz? I’m not sure if he’s joking or not, but the answer is ‘no’. None of us are skilled mountain bikers and riding on muddy paths with unfamiliar bikes is the last thing we want to do. ‘Ok we go Kayaking in the rain then, maybe it will clear up.’ Even in the pouring rain, the karst islands of Lan Ha bay are captivating. It’s just fun to look out, see the different shapes, map the contours in our heads.
After renting some kayaks we sail to a new spot. I have fully committed in my head to go in the pouring rain, but honestly, part of me doesn’t want to. Cold rain in a kayak seems fun, no? And it’s so beautiful above the water on the boat, I think ‘why don’t we just sail around?’ Amanda isn’t sure she wants to go either.
“Yeah I totally want to go” says Lily and Emma together. Emma is always up for anything – like her mom. Lily is often the one that wants to stay in the room and order room service, so when she’s up for it we all go. They give us lifejackets today because we are more in the open ocean. After switching Kayaks with Chenz (it had leaks) we push off from the ‘Lan Ha 25″ for parts unknown… to us anyway.
Boy are we glad we went. The next 90 minutes are pure joy. The rain isn’t cold at all, it’s very warm. It’s even more comfortable than yesterday when we had to wear sunscreen and mop the sweat. Lily gets excited and talks a mile a minute in my Kayak. We joke around and crack up. Emma and Amanda have a great paddle rhythm going on, and they get some good time together. Emma can be hard to know, she doesn’t naturally divulge and share and Amanda enjoys the time with her.
Through the relentless but friendly rain, Chenz takes us into caves, over crashing waves in the open and into a few lagoons that are absolutely the most beautiful I have ever seen. The walls of the lagoons go straight up hundreds of feet like we are at the bottom of an enormous well. I almost expect to see a giant’s head lean over the top and drop down a rope and bucket. Sadly it’s too wet to bring the camera, and I’m not sure it would even have been capturable on film. You’ll have to take my word or better yet, come here.
The scenery is so evocative and prehistoric, in part because we are so alone. I could easily see a Triceratops munching on leaves over there. Chenz says monkeys frequent these parts when it drier. There is also less trash today. I’m reminded of how old and big a system is the earth. We are such a small part.
We go ashore a cute little beach and get some sand. In our dining room we have a sand collection from Peru, Sahara, Gobi, Hawaii, Indonesia, Iceland and several others from our travels. It sits in our dining room in little flasks.
The kayaking is exhilarating and tiring. When we get back they have set up some freshly fried salted shelled peanuts in the skin. We thought they were cold red beans from afar. With them are the small ‘sugar’ banannas that taste so good. We scarf the peanuts and banannas standing up over the table, alternating salty and sweet. The meal that follows is similar to the day before – very good with some highlights like the peanuts.
Amanda and I drink coffee on the roof of the boat. It’s still raining, but begins to stop. We just take it all in – the scenery, the smells and each other. We are very in love and very good for each other. We chat about our next trips – one of our favorite vacation topics. Chile, Portugal, Germany, Iceland are all mentioned. One of our goals is to slow travel with each other – a year at least. It’ll happen some day. We’d like to spend more time here in Vietnam for sure.
And then it begins to be over. They drop off the Kayaks and we look at the floating home of a local family that has a bed for rent, fresh fish they farm and cook to order and a 250lb king Grouper in a pen underneath the planks of the house that they turned down $10,000 dollars to sell because ‘Big fish bring good luck’ says Chenz. The boat sails into the harbor and we disembark, like awakening from a dream.
Today was originally our day in Hanoi. We gave it up to take a long shot on the weather, and it paid off. But we have a flight early tomorrow morning to Nha Trang, and we can’t stay any longer. The hydrofoil to Haiphong takes an hour, the car ride to Hanoi another 3 hours. Amanda and I go for a long walk through the busy night life of old town Hanoi before falling deeply asleep.