Ha Long Bay (and Vietnam in general) was absolutely one of my favorite places to visit, and definitely a favorite for this specific SE Asia trip. This post will cover a crazy couchsurfing night I had the eve of my Ha Long excursion.
Prior to my trip, I updated my couchsurfing profile to reflect a rough itinerary of my trip. I ended up couchsurfing twice, but also meeting up with about 3 people from the site. An Indian man about my age (late 20s) named Dikshit (my favorite name ever as of now) messaged me and said he was also planning to go to Ha Long Bay the beginning of July. This man was a godsend, as he basically set up the whole trip for us; I was still in Thailand/Cambodia by the time he got to Vietnam, so he got to know his way around and find the perfect boat ride for us.
The boat ride I found was hilarious: there were 3 different price rates, the lowest would say things like “food: not very good” “bus: uncomfortable”, so luckily Dikshit found something in our price range which was SO much more fun.
I took Viet Jet from Siem Reap to Hanoi on July 4, and did not land until around 10pm. I asked Dikshit previously if he could ask his couchsurf host if I could join them the night before we left for Ha Long. Since I wasn’t getting in til late, and my bus left at 8am, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. And it wasn’t. But it was an experience.
Dikshit warned be that his host was a little different. He might have even used the word “weird”. What I got I was not expecting.
By the time I got to the heart of Hanoi from the airport, it was about 11pm. I was dropped off by a beautiful opera house.
I took a taxi to a bar close to the couchsurf apartment. Then I walked through dark alleys with all my gear for approximately 30 mins. I could not find this place. Dikshit ended up meeting me outside the apartment, and warned me again that his couchsurf host was weird.
Ok, so I enter the apartment. It is one bedroom. There is a short little Vietnamese man in his boxers and a silky robe. There are three girls in the room I come to learn have been staying with him for a while. When I enter, two of the girls and the man have their arms around each other in a swaying huddle/hug. I find out the girls are also Couchsurfers, and they are all high on weed. The girls begin interpretive dancing around the room, and tbh, they are not acting like a weed high. Maybe they took something else? Whatever, the Vietnamese man is loving this. Someone offers me weed but NO, this doesn’t seem safe!
Anyway, one girl suggests they play this game called “Don’t be greedy” which was the most ridiculous but entertaining game. She had a piece of a chocolate bar, and they passed it around taking tiny nibbles. Whoever had to eat the very last piece, I don’t know, I don’t remember, but there was some funny consequence no one wanted. Ok, this chocolate piece got so small, I don’t know how they were even biting it. One Couchsurfer said it was all saliva by then.
So it’s time for bed. We’re all, all six of us, are sleeping in here. A 10×20 room with no beds, a large mattress on the floor. Approximately 4 blankets and 3 pillows. Oh, and we’re all just laying next to each other, so I am lying right next to my Ha Long Bay mate 30 minutes after meeting him.
I woke up at 3am, and desperately needed a pillow. I stole my sleeping Couchsurf host’s; he didn’t seem to notice or mind.
Dikshit and I had to get up before 7am (it is already “Feels Like” 93 degrees out according to my weather app) to get the bus to another bus to get to Ha Long Bay. Again, thank God for Dikshit for knowing how to navigate himself to our bus and even knowing which one and where we stop and paying attention. Also knowing to be quiet. I got shushed on the bus twice for talking too loud when the men were trying to sleep on their way to work.
We get to our stop andddd the office is closed. And there is no bus. And there is no bus for long time (I buy and eat a bag of assortment pastries in the meantime, which Dikshit bargains for). So we try calling the company on my phone which is like $4/minute (I probably used that phone to make calls for at least 15 mins in SE Asia and never did get a bill…thanks Sprint!). Anyway long story short they say they’re on the way. We wait a long time. We call again. We wait. And then we get our bus!
Can’t wait to post the wonders of Ha Long Bay and a bunch of drunk backpackers in the next post!