Tuesday, September 12, 2006

One perfect day

The view from the Bar at Cat Ba Island.

With the sound of loud thunder I awoke. I looked out the window and realised I could be in a lot of trouble if the lightening came any closer. It was 6:00am and I was sleeping on a boat in the middle of a large empty space dotted with Islands. That's how my perfect day began.

I was in Ha Long Bay, a grouping of hundreds of islands, caves and grottos in Northern Vietnam (about 300km from the Chinese Boarder). Whilst the heavens poured, I quickly got dressed and decided to wait out the storm to the dulcet tones of Phillip Adams via Pod Cast. I took photos of the mist delicately wrapping itself around the large jaggered cliffs and watched as it disappeared all together.

After breakfast, I disembarked from the Phuong Doung at Cat Ba Island, the largest in the group and boarded a mini van bound for Cat Ba City. On the way we stopped at a tiny village and picked up a man, portly in stature and dressed in purple waterproof pants with a matching hooded jacket, his face was old and weathered.

He had an inviting smile that seemed almost drawn on. He was to be our hiking guide. With a quick nod of the head we were off and climbing up a mountain. The sweat began to cluster on the back of my neck and drip down my face and I feared I wouldn’t make the summit.

After two hours we were there and the view was spectacular. On the way down my shoes slipped in the muddied ground but I miraculously maintained my balance and I stopped and picked fresh guava. Delicious.

Afterwards I wandered the island intent on finding somewhere to watch the Swans play the WCE in the AFL, armed with a crisp 10US dollar note and prepared to bribe my way into someone’s home if I had to.

It quickly became apparent that if I was going to be able to view the game anywhere it would be at the Green Noble, the plushest of all the bars on the island and owned by Peter a 40 something Aussie guy who moved there from Morebank in Sydney 10 years ago.

The girls at the Bar said we have Aussie kangaroo as boss like you and big TV, come back at 5:00pm.

I returned to my group and boarded a smaller boat (more like a small fishing dingy and headed for a floating village to get some kayaks, with a little agility I did not even know I possessed I maneuvered myself from the boat onto a wooden plank in the sea and was given my small kayak. I set off into apparent wilderness. I was hopeless at first but with a little grit and a lot of guts I managed to steer myself trough tiny holes in towering hills and paddle in the hidden waters.

Itching to get back to the island to watch the match we stopped at Monkey Island where a family of 4 monkeys frolicked on the sand beach, playfully they teased us and entertained relishing in the spotlight of our trained cameras.

Back on the boat again we returned to Cat Ba where I ran to the bar. I bounded up the 3 flights of stairs only to be disappointed to hear that the game couldn't be seen. Instead I drank with a Belgium couple, a doctor and his wife from Melbourne, 3 Irish girls and a German girl, all of whom I had single handily convinced to come with me.

It was a merry night but I sat and agonized over the result of the game.
Around midnight I went to the net cafe and saw that the Swans had beaten the WCE in a thriller by one point. I squealed with delight and realised I had done the impossible, I had lived my perfect day.

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