Part II of our Ha Long Bay Trip, Check Out Part I here

On day 2 we chat more with the other couples on our trip. One couple from San Francisco and one from Australia. We talk to the San Franciscans about their time in Ethiopia and the strange world that is San Francisco. . The Australians are funny and we talk about things I saw when I was in Australia – The Phillip Island Penguin Parade and the Easter Bilby. We talk about the monster children, as apparently everyone knows them by now and has their own horror story. We’re relieved they only stayed one night and are now gone.

We start the morning kayaking with the San Franciscans and our guide. It’s wet. Very wet. We are told an island has monkeys and a special red one who is their leader. We do not see monkeys. We paddle to a beach and pick up more garbage. I swim out through the oily water, bringing in more trash. It’s sad what’s been done to the bay. Yet it’s still beautiful and even swimming in the warm, kind of polluted water feels invigorating. We start to paddle back to the boat, the sun beating down on us. Our guide says we can kayak to a nearby beach or hang out on the boat. We choose boat.

I jump off the boat and cannonball into the water. Jumping in feels much more dangerous than it did when I was a child. The violence of hitting the water and plunging deep below gives me an adrenaline rush. We swim for a bit, then head back to the boat, exhausted. We drink beer, eat lunch,  chat with the other couples, and drink more beer. We’re ready to relax, but it turns out our 2pm fishing excursion is mandatory. Actually I’ve gotten kind of bored and am ready to do something so I don’t mind.

So that’s how I find myself on a small wooden platform on a small wooden boat, banging a bamboo stick against a bamboo bar, trying to “scare” fish into a net that’s been laid out below. The boat may well be 50 years old. It’s not much other than wood, a small platform, a motor, some oars and the net. I doubt the people fishing need us making noise. I sit and dangle my legs off the platform’s edge, obediently pounding my stick and waiting for the boat ride to end. We don’t succeed in scaring many fish, though we do scare ourselves out of the next morning’s “fishing village excursion.” Happily back on the main boat, we laugh about fishing over dinner and mojitos.