Went to the prime minister's talk at NUS. As expected, great orator and very likeable guy, “make more babies for Singapore” he says, “one for him, one for her, and one for Singapore” he says. Split for the study room to attend the garage party. Drank lots of Vodka red bull, wrote NUS with glasses of beer. Students here act really prude but are really wild underneath. Woke up with a head ache and fell asleep under the shower.
Took a charter flight to Hanoi with Loic. All in all, 3.5 kg of luggage in our backpacks. Took a cab to the train station but the driver wanted to rip us off. We stop in the middle of nowhere and hop on a bus. Got ripped off over our dinner. Don't let people lie to you: hostels are for the ugly. We're worse. Took a night train to Sapa, which is in the mountains next to China. Just like the alps without the chalets. Hard seats in Vietnam are actually worse from those in China, packed with loud and dirty peasant smokers on wooden benches for ten hours. Got a cheap Hotel room with a gorgeous view, had breakfast, red bull. Hired a guide to visit local Hmong villages. Spent the day with the locals in the countryside. Tried out the rice-peasant lifestyle. Went to the market, took photos of maggots and dog meat.
Had a barbecue in our hotel room. A typhoon hit the coast and we woke up to rain. Hired two motor bikes and went up to the Laotian border, got covered in mud, saw some waterfalls. A Vietnamese woman ripped us off and Loic got pissed. Felt cold, had a few hot showers. Too many lame markets, so we split for Hanoi Hard sleeper night train: vietnamese-sized wooden bunks with a pillow. A man spat on Loic’s shoes. Wandered in Hanoi from 4 am to 8, went to the perfume pagoda with a group of tourists. There was a French girl who looked like a leprechaun.
Loic took care of the small talk. We were taken by boat to some mountain, ate gargantuan amounts of weird Vietnamese food. Hiked up the mountain to a massive cave that had a Buddhist temple inside, which was trippy to say the least. Spent the night out in Hanoi, but there’s martial law, like the war still isn’t over. Ended up in an apocalypse now-style café that played Jimi Hendrix all night. The rain chucked down. Drank red bull. Got out at 3h30 am, went to a bakery where I fell asleep. So did the waitress. Loic took pictures.
Split for HaLong, took a three day package. Two irish drunkards got on the bus and talked nonsense really loud. They stank of alcohol and kept me from sleeping. They got on the same boat as we did. We had lunch two German girls, once again there was no limit to how much we ate. Halong bay is just like it’s postcards. Beautiful. We contemplatively wandered on top of the boat. Visited a big cave, took a kayak to an Island and ran up a to a temple on the summit. Enjoyed the sunset. Went down to the beach and swam. Took the kayak back to the boat and everybody was pissed off at us for doing something while they were getting bored on the boat. Mostly it was the two irish drunkards and their retarded Australian friends. They spent dinner insulting the English. Went to sleep on the boat. Got up and went to Catba Island. Had a three hour hike and picked wild bananas and berries, got stomach-ache. Had a large lunch, went kayaking to a deserted island, water there was as hot as a bath. Tried rock-climbing but cut my feet and hands, went to monkey island and looked at monkeys. Got back and had dinner, watched Tim Burton’s Willy wonka and made a fire by the beach. Burned a carpet. Had breakfast while a brittish girl complained about ants in her bed. We ate her breakfast too.
Got invited to stay at some friends’ place in Hanoi so we caught a ride back. Jumped off the boat and sang Vietnamese karaoke on the way. Saw the BoonLay Americans in Halong city and said hello to Stephanie, which felt very awkward. Hanoi. Bought two T-shirts for 1.65 euros, crossed a street and almost became road-kill. Met The-Anh and the crew, none of them spoke English so we stuck to Chinese. Cruised the city on scooters. Went out to different places and ended up in a karaoke. I feel like the ghost of a total stranger. Went to The-Anh’s house and met his parents, his dad is a high-ranked military. The next day we saw some ruins, Hochimin’s mausoleum, a bunch of Chinese diplomats, a military procession and hochimin’s body preserved in wax. His mustache looks fake. Our cameras and phones were confiscated. Saw Dat’s brother and nephews and had weird stuff for lunch. Bird beaks and tongues, frogs, dog feet, and other ineffable stuff, drank lots of Vietnamese liquor. Picked up a parcel for Dat. A Vietnamese guy tried to sit on me on the bus to the airport. We opened up the parcel and found chewing gum inside.
Loic took a flight to Hanoi with the BoonLay Americans who just happened to be there. Went to Kuala Lumpur, slept in the airport, woke up at 4h30 am and took a bus to the city, made my way to Puddhuraya and took the 7h15 bus to Singapore. Slept. Arrived in Bugis at 12h30, met Abdul and made it to Boonlay around 14h. Home sweet home.
Total cost : 100 euros in Vietnam, 105 euros to get there and back.