We arrived in Hanoi around 5:30 am and immediately began to fear the heat, which the weather report promised to be even worse than before. We hopped in a cab to get to a cafe near Hoan Kiem Lake, and quickly realized we got in the wrong cab. The car was in far worse condition any of the other cabs we’d been in in Vietnam and we suddenly noticed the meter was running at 4 times the normal price! I poked the guy in the shoulder and told him to let us off at a completely random street corner, and we got out and hailed a legit cab from there.
We ended up at a air-conditioned cafe called Long Van Thuy Ta and sat next to a fan. Coincidentally, man-bun douche and his pal from the night before were at this cafe also. We enjoyed ice coffee and pineapple cake while waiting for our tour bus to pick us up. Our tour guide, Thinh, explained the itinerary. This was the first and only organized activity we booked, and we were pleasantly surprised at all the fun things lined up, as we hadn’t read anything carefully when booking.
After a 4-hour bus ride, we took a small boat to get onto our cruiser, The Halong Phoenix. We were served a multi-course meal including steamed fish with lemongrass, herbs, and chili peppers; stir-fried greens; a side of fruit; and other dishes.
After lunch, we kayaked in the bay around large rock formations and small coves. Most regrettably, we did not have waterproof cameras and could not take pictures of the beautiful kayaking adventure.
After kayaking, we returned to our cruiser then took a small boat to Ti Top beach. The beach was lovely, but a bit crowded. We made a short hike to the top, where the view was gorgeous:
We swam in the ocean after we came back down. The water was probably 90 degrees. We went back to the cruiser and had another multi-course dinner, with shrimp, fried tofu, sauteed cabbage, crab cakes, and stir-fried pork.
After dinner, we went squid fishing, which excited me (yummy!) but no one caught anything (sob!).
We had drinks on the top deck of the boat until midnight. The youngsters went to sleep and we shot the shit with a young business man from the UK whose stories were reminiscent of an Ayn Rand novel. I suggested he read Atlas Shrugged, as I suspected he’d identify with some of the protagonists.