Published: October 14th 2007October 12th 2007
I want a Chinese junk for christmas. And I want all pirates to derive their charming wit from Keith Richards and wear eyeliner. And I want my personal space bubble inflated. And I want a viable third party candidate for the 2008 primary. And I want to learn how to say "not a chance in hell am I gonna buy that banana, bitch" in Vietnamese. And I want a pony.
Now that we have an understanding, let me tell you that I have officially encountered the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen in all my 24 years. Ha Long Bay. Stunning. Can't wait to get these pictures off my sweet little digi and blooming on yer yankee screens. Beeeeautiful.
Unfortunately, in my efforts to out-do Maw in the packing light contest, I left my battery charger in the hotel in Hanoi and didn't get to snap half has many as I would have liked. Not to worry though, I can always steal pix off someone else annnd I managed to get enough to get the idea across. You'd have to be there anyway. It's a breath-taker. And ya know what's so cool? Hiding from pirates in coves.
At night we anchored near this cove in a section of the bay surrounded by looming stone islands kind of like in Peter Pan, but minus the scary skull bit and the mermaids. And there were 200 junks docked here in hiding (it was amazingly quiet by the way for such a powwow) from the local pirates who attack at night. Wow. I escaped pirates. And I think I could live on a junk forever.
With a captain and a cook and a crew to serve me, of course. ;) Traveling first class can do strange things to a girl. Like the gleam of a diamond.
So junk we wailed and junk we sailed and junk we docked. 14 Courses and a light brunch later, we rolled back into Hanoi passing paddies dotted with water buffalo and triangle-helmeted farmers like every peaceful hollywood scene you've ever seen (not that there are so many to choose from, now that I think about it). We slirped some pho and after yet another circular navigation to our hotel, we got all dolled up for the Japanese/Parisian/Artist guy's exhibition and, more importantly, Maw's birthday. We never actually made it to the show that night, but textile installation doesn't thrill me much anyway.
After a lovely dinner on the garden terrace of the Piano Bar, we had planned to taxi our way to the Titanic to meet up with the Portugese man from Mao's Red Lounge, as I mentioned before ... Plan B had a few holes in the bucket, however.
Low and behold, 60,000 dong and too many honks to count later, we arrived at the dock only to find a very dark, very shady, very quiet looking, rocking little boat. This is also not the best part of town, down at the docks, right, so we swung around and started to head back into the city lights -- until we had a thought, as we sometimes do, that perhaps they're playing coy. This is what happens in bars in Asia, especially ones in a communist country with a curfew: they pull the shades and cross the gates, keep the lights down and the tunes at a low din to the facade on the street. Inside, of course, is a bustling little beehive of kids on Santa's naughty list doing as they damn well please. So goes late nights in Asia.
Based on this new realization, we decided, hey, we came all the way out here and there very well may be a well-spoken Portugese man warming up his sea legs in there and so back we'll go and double check. So back we went.
Lower and beholder, we pulled up to an even shadier, more disappointing scene. There was no boat! Where'd it go? I don't know. Maybe it fulfilled its prophecy and sank. Maybe it carried on down river. No one seems to know.
The mysteries of the orient indeed.
*We did, by the way, carry on with the celebrations and following our motorbikers' advice, we went to this dive called The Lighthouse which turns out was a gay pick-up joint. Met some interesting characters. Danced on a disco-lit stage that could have doubled as an alien spaceship landing pad and home we went. Maw was quite pleased overall with her fairwell to 27.
**Ideas on the fate of the Titanic?