No sooner had I got my sea legs, than they were snatched from under me as we went ashore for some extremely medium-duty jungle trekking on Cat Ba Island™. After getting suitably sweaty, we took another short voyage to spend the night on Monkey Island™, which was inevitably disappointing given my impossibly high expectations.
Not only did I not see any monkeys, I didn't see a single pirate skeleton ghost or come across seemingly random objects for my inventory that would later prove ingeniously useful when combined with other objects or parts of the background. I feel like I've been the victim of an extremely long-winded marketing con by Vietnamese travel companies in collaboration with Guybrush Threepwood and the good people of LucasArts. I've heard they are contemptible sneaks. Still, I always enjoy a rickety wooden cabin.
Ha Long Bay - Day Two
Good Morning, Vietnam™
Cat Ba Island™
I've wandered through plenty of tropical foliage in the last couple of years, and this was more the sandals-friendly caliber of Penang's Monkey Beach™ than Pulau Tioman's injuring Monkey Bay™ route. I do go to quite a lot of places that promise monkeys in the name, don't I? That subliminal advertising really worked.
To give you some idea of the difficulty of this route up to Ngu Lam peak and back down again, a family thought it was a sensible idea to take their three-year-old son here, who was heroically hoisted along most of the way by the manic guide. Meanwhile, a couple of prissy English girls (the same ones I complained about earlier) found something to criticise every step and cranny of the way, to the point that bolder people than me were telling them to shut the eff up or pee off home.
What is it with the English people I meet? Maybe they all have blogs complaining about the English guy sneering at them and writing things down on a scrap of paper. Fair enough.
This is what Ha Long Bay would look like without the water
Assorted deadly beasties that didn't kill me this time
Ngu Lam peak: did it
It hasn't been too long since I spent the night in a rickety wooden hut on a remote island paradise, but this is the first time this year that these sleeps haven't been interrupted by the battering of typhoon rains. Considering the state of the roof above my pillow in this heavily negotiated and downgraded accommodation, I'm grateful the rainy season ended last week.
Annoyingly, for what was supposed to be an escape from the regularity of my normal life (which is itself an escape from the regularity of my normal life), the bastard resort had Wi-Fi, so I was able to check my emails and get a bit of work done. With convenient Wi-Fi access and an unprecedented six power sockets in my hut meaning there wouldn't have to be any sacrifice of fans or arguments over phone chargers, I could have stayed here a day or two longer, if I hadn't already paid a deposit back at Hanoi. I could theoretically have stayed forever.
Yeah, I know - I would have been deathly bored after three days. And even if I'd succeeded in finding a way inside the giant monkey head, I would only have got lost in the subterranean labyrinth without some sort of paranormal and unhygienic guide to help me.
I'm aware that if you've never played the vintage video game The Secret of Monkey Island™, this post probably didn't make a whole lot of sense to you, but I'm more worried that your life has been seriously lacking.
I think he likes you