We had been advised that we should 100% stay at Vietnam Downtown Backpackers Hostel Hanoi. So we spent ALOT of time trying to find this place, but oh my god it was worth it! After roaming the old quarter of Hanoi, which consists of hundreds of parallel streets of very similar shops, we checked into our double bed in a 12 bed dorm.
We decided to go for a dorm so we could meet some people, and literally within the first 10 minutes we had met three Irish lads that were bloody hilarious and invited us to be on their team for pub quiz that night! Our team, ‘We’re par’HANOId we have DONGoreah’ ended up coming second (we were definitely robbed of 1st place by some cheaters with google!) which is the best I have ever come in a quiz…we later found out 2 of the Irish boys were Doctors and one was a Lawyer haha so I guess we stood a good chance! We ended up all getting hammered and went out on a bar crawl. The hostel puts a bar crawl on every night plus happy hour and other deals which is amazing! So depending on what you want in Hanoi there will be a number of hostels to suit that, if you wanna meet loads of other backpackers and go out then this will be the one for you.
The night was so fun, even though we ended up getting a very weird tag along that was 100% like Richard from the Inbetweeners movie! He kept rapping and doing weird brake dancing…he had a long ginger beard and a very veiny neck hahaha he was just a strange character so of course he stuck by me all night! bloody hell!
The Irish guys; Prof, Crowe and Mark, told us we should definitely book on to the castaway tour the next day. This is a trip put on by the hostel to go to Halong Bay for 2 nights and 3 days. You have accommodation on a private island, get to go kayaking, tubing and on a booze cruise as well as have 2 huge parties. We weren’t really sure whether or not to go because it was really expensive, however even people in China
had recommended this to us. After a few drinks we thought ‘why not!’ so booked it on a whim…SO glad we did.
It was a struggle getting up at 6am due to the escalation of the pub quiz the night before, however we made it! We met the whole group downstairs that would be going with us and everyone seemed really nice. After three buses and two boats we were there! Not missing out the one tiny fishing boat we all crammed onto, where someone sat on a polestireine box and broke it…meaning hundreds of tiny crabs were escaping onto the packed out boat. Matt thought it was hilarious and started picking up the crabs and scaring people with it, and shoving it in a Vietnamese child’s face haha!
When we reached the island we had free time for a few hours before the tubing, so a group of us decided to take out the kayaks and explore the bay!
It was so breathtakingly beautiful. So many tiny private islands varying dramatically in shape and size and hidden behind towering limestone karsts in the emerald water. Some also are hollow, carving out huge caves that you can kayak into! We passed a few floating villages and floating fish farms with families living inside. This is one of the natural wonders of the world, and it really is breathtaking. The karsts have gone through 500million years of changes in formation due to different conditions and environments and there is around 1,600 of them, each topped with jungle vegetation.
We had two tour guides with us – one of which told us he had only just discovered Vietnam wasn’t a landlocked country…left great hope for him leading us around the bay! There were some bloody huge jelly fish hanging around so I had to keep warning Matt I would not be happy if he decided to capsize the boat as a laugh! I took a million photos of different rocks because it was just all so beautiful …which meant my camera ran out of battery on the trip which was NOT ideal!
The guide told us that the word ‘Halong’ actually means ‘descending dragon’, because the locals believe when Vietnam began to develop into a country, it needed to be protected from invaders. They believe the gods sent them a family of dragons, of which began to spit out jewels which turned into the islands dotting the bay!
They have island rules here – drinking with your left hand means people shout ‘BUFFALO’ and you have to down the whole drink. Saying the word ‘Ten’ and ‘mine’ are banned and results in giving 10 push ups!
A hilarious guy on our tour got buffalo’ed sooo many times as well as saying the banned words. He even had to do 10 push ups on his kayak…this did not go well for him and resulted in him and his beer being plummeted into jelly fish infested water!
That night was mental! Everyone was so drunk and just loving life. When the booze cruise docked up from the group in front of us, Matt went running over and turns out he knew a guy called Callum from exactly 2 years ago in Thailand…Small world!! We actually ended up travelling the rest of Vietnam with Callum and his girlfriend Leanne, as well as a few others in our group, was SO fun!
The Irish boys, Matt and I told everyone we know each other from home and are famous Skydiving performers called ‘The Royal Greens’ haha I don’t really know why but we kept it going the whole trip. Occasionally one of us would go ‘everyone do your New York 2010 Formations’ and we would all mould into some weird body pose hahaha!
There was plankton in the water…not as good as other places apparently by I still loved it and was playing in it for ages with some other people we met! It was one of those moments you stop and think how happy you are in life!!
Matt and I got a bit lovey dovey too haha sickening I know but it all got too much and we were too happy and loving life! Plus the beers aided to the soppy chats!
The next morning was BOOZE CRUISE time! Matt had passed out at breakfast. and then again when we got on the boat. haha it was so funny though because an English lad had the BEST iPod playlist with all the old school classics, and he put on ’Sambucca – DJ Luck’ and Matt literally got to his feet and started rapping!
He followed with Notorious B.I.G and Matt was a new man. Everyone was cheering and then he just got straight back on it with a round! We had the best day!! The weather was beautiful, we played drinking games, had a dance, jumped off the boat and swam to a close by island! It was just so much fun and our group were amazing! Everyone joined in and just had a laugh.
The lunch was DANK on the boat too, so much fresh vegetables, seafood dishes and chicken! I love vietnamese food! We took the kayaks out again to explore another section of the bay. Matt found a dead fish and decided to put it in everyones boat that went past haha and when they screamed and threw it out into the water, he made them get it again because he wanted to keep it to prank the next person. So these poor girls had to reach in and grab this dead smelly fish and throw it back to Matt! He wasn’t allowed it back on the boat though thank god, because god knows where that fish would have ended up. Matt and I could have stayed out there all day, it was so perfect!
When we got back to the island Matt told me he was going to sleep on the beach for a quick disco nap, but I told him he wasn’t allowed near the sea incase he got washed away by the tide! Anyway I couldn’t find him so I rounded up a search party and were all shouting ‘HAM’ down the beach (the nickname I call him haha). We became very Bear Grills and were following foot prints etc until we found him at the other side of the beach literally face down in the sand ahaha!! Prof picked him up like a fireman carry and took him back to the bar! Fair play to Matt though because he got up and partied on like an absolute trooper haha!!
It was such a clear night, and a few of us were star gazing on the beach! Someone had an App which shows all the formations, so everyone was proper mesmerised!!
I was in a world of my own until I felt someone beind me pick me up and tackle me into the sea fully clothed…yeah cheers Matt haha! I woke up in a Hammock at 3.30am with my sunglasses still on and completely COVERED in sand and just rolled out and went to bed, to find Matt sleeping like a baby…haha he would have had to have walked past me passed out in the hammock to get to bed.
The next morning I felt soo hungover and looked an absolute mess. Matt also couldn’t even handle his breakfast! I was brushing my teeth when a girl next to me was like ‘ahh your hair is so shiny’, I thought it was a bit random as it looked like shit and so I was like ‘ahh thank you, I haven’t even washed it today so thats strange’. I worked out later that day that she actually was saying it was so ‘sandy’ not ‘shiny’ haha how embarrassing.
The 6 hour journey back to the hostel was NOT fun…however the whole castaway trip was amazing! We had the best time and met some bloody hilarious people that we will defo stay in contact with. We even went out with them all again that night and ended up staying out until 4am!!
This is the reason I got really ill and even got some weird eye infection where they swelled up twice the size haha SO SEXY!