Sadness and irony. As I write this post today, the news is emblazoned with disaster. People killed aboard a boat in Halong Bay. It's crazy. We were there. This was us two weeks ago. It's tragic; a crazy accident involving a freak typhoon. The drunken debauchery below, therefore is not applicable if you're looking for a survivor story...
We signed up for a party boat last night.
The last time we signed up for Hammer Time on a floating sea-bound vessel was in Mexico. And it was such a disaster, we nearly jumped into the bay of Cancun and swam home. That's another story for another day.
So it is surprising that we are giving it another crack.
We signed up with the hostel, Hanoi Backpackers, and immediately thought 'Fuck.'
As the group consisted of around 50 young travelling things, and most of these were Aussies.
Through gritted teeth I'd sit as one bolshy man-kango would scream, "Lochner! Pahss me another frostie, and while you're at it, a dart, mate."
(Frostie is a beer. Dart, a cigarette. Fuck that's annoying lingo. Jesus.)
So we were to be marooned with Aussies, and a handful of Yanks. We were loaded onto a minibus and carted off east to Halong Bay, the setting that dreams are made of and World Heritage Sites are yarned.
The scene is 2000 small islands, or 'karsts' that rise out of the ocean, and we get to stay on a boat surrounded by these things. And as an added bonus, get drunk while we're at it.
I took about 300 pictures of the sunset. I was known as (euphemistically, mind you) 'camera lady.'
From the moment we stepped on, we knew we'd know these people well by the end of the weekend. Jesus. Understatement of the century.
It was cold, so we were bundled up in jeans and jackets, taking endless pictures and drinking beer on the deck.
The tour operators were ready to lock and load us up on rum. So that we could be pirates.
The first rule was Buffalo. Anyone caught drinking with their right hand had to neck their entire drink.
People were getting sozzled enough to jump off the boat into the freezing water.
After dinner, in the main dining cabin, we played a huge game of Ring Of Death, where forfeits, mass drinking and carnage incurred.
By now, we'd met some ace people. Two hysterical Brits from London and a good-value Irish couple. The reason we liked them so much is that they find Aussies as annoying as we do. ("It's the whining...")
The brits were full of rolling toilet humour (basic, carnal, the best), and were constantly going on about "Gotta go lay some coil, mate" or"Gotta go drop the Indian cricket team off by the pool."
Here's one conversation I remember before the mass intoxication and swashbuckling kicked off:
"I 'ave a mate in Brighton who 'as 'is own club," he says.
"'E's crazy as. You guys should meet 'im if you hever go down vere. 'E's done everyfin. And I mean pretty much everyfin."
Peas: Like what?
"Well put it this way. He sent me a text the uvver day, and it says, "Mate. I fought I'd done everyfin. But right now I'm doing gear with a midget."
Peas: He's shnarfing coke with a dwarf?
"Classic innit. You can just see the li'le geezer jumpin' off the sofa to get a line. Ah mate I tell you what."
So the game starts and forfeits are given. People drew on other people's faces as a start. Brit had a penis drawn on his; I had a
Then we had to swap clothes. For the rest of the evening, I had to wear the Brit's bloody jeans and t-shirt, and he got to wear my red bikini and skinny jeans.
And thus the hilarity of my boyfriend dressed like someone who should be clubbing in Camden, who was squeezed into my jeans, compressing his balls into what I can only imagine, an uncomfortable una-testicle.
One guy decided to take all his clothes off completely, and run around dick a-swinging. I was prancing about in my underpants at one point, if my memory even serves.
It was, to be fair, quite a spectacle.
By the end of the night, the other Brit had 'cunt' written across his forehead, I had a permanent marker moustache, it was mayhem.
We passed out before the porn party began though. Our new Brit friend reported back, "It was a porn show up vere, mate. My arms were like octopus tentacles amongst all the naked women bodies I tell ya."
People got naked and all scored each other, it seemed. If I was 25, and single, I might've got involved.
The next day, we all just lazed about giggling with sore heads. While marvelling in the fact that we were privvy to our own crazy, naked party in the middle of one of the world's most beautiful and impressive heritage sites.
Once in a lifetime, I tell ya mate.