Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Korea friends visit Cat Ba!

As a few of our friends from Gwangju contracts were up, they stopped by Cat Ba and Halong Bay on the beginning of their journeys through Southeast Asia.  Caitlin and Justin were the first to arrive and we rented a boat for a day and a night to cruise around Halong Bay.

Justin tries his hand (s and feet!) at deep water soloing. 

It's feeding time at the floating fish farm.

Kelly arrives after a storm delay and a detour to the north. We are rad on motorbikes. I kind of want one when I get home. 

Enjoying some afternoon bia hoi and Justin cleans the mud off Caitlin's leg by spitting water on it. 

On Saturday, we went Lien Minh, a village on the island where a lot of the climbing is located. We didn't get to climb long before we got shut down because the cliff is in the middle of lease negotiations. We spent the rest of the day lying in hammocks and trying to slackline. 

This boy was very enthusiastic about having his picture taken and taking our cameras to try his hand at a bit of photography. I now have many photos of this water buffalo and his friend.

Trang's family was visiting Cat Ba from Hue. We were really lucky to be invited to a big dinner in Lien Minh with Slo Pony folks and all the people that help them here. Trinh and Nha facilitate climbers at Butterfly Valley. I teach their son, Tuan. Also, Quang and his wife. Quang is a very important man around Cat Ba and owns the boats Slo Pony uses for their bay trips.  This dinner involved a food and a lot of homemade honey rice wine! 

This is Dinh and Vu. They are Trang's younger brothers and Slo Pony rock climbing guides. I'm teaching them English and I just love them! They're really great guys and super cool, just look at Dinh's hair. (He's only 20, but I just found out he was a hair stylist before getting into rock climbing.)

The honey rice wine was flowing and Trinh and Slo couldn't help from dancing!

Caitlin is getting a Vietnamese lesson from Tuan, also a really great young man that I'm teaching as well. 

This is Trang, Dinh, and Vu's youngest brother, Vinh. He is the cutest (and sneakiest) thing ever. Whenever my back was turned, my rice wine glass was suddenly full again.  Usually, I want to steal children under three or four years old, but I would steal him. 

Here's a group shot of our extended Vietnamese family dinner. It was really a great night and I'm glad our Korea friends got a chance to share it with us! 

Rainy Season Begins....

Last weekend, we were rained in all day and cabin fever set in hard. All the boats on and off the island were cancelled, which delayed our Korea friends a few days, but more on their visit later. They tell me that this past storm was hardly a storm at all, but it look like a whole lot of rain to me! 
This was the bottom of the main street after the rain stopped. There was a huge pile of rocks from the steady stream of water running downhill to the harbor. 
This isn't a very good picture, but where the water changes color is the line between where the water is brown from all the dirt runoff coming downhill and the regular water. 

Brian's motorbike got a bit too soaked to start up again and instantly had a team of Vietnamese amateur motorbike mechanics. I believe they broke it while trying to fix it, fixed what they broke, then, in true Vietnamese style, asked Brian to pay them for fixing what they broke .

A few of the girls who work at the Noble House. 

This is Llet (sounds like "let" with a long l and a hard t). She is the sassiest of Noble House girls. She is always hitting Matt and telling him his beard makes him look like a monkey. I'm pretending that she is tormenting me because she usually is. Here we are having a cabin fever photo shoot in the kitchen. 

I'm pretty sure we will be rained in many more days before the summer is through. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Photo update....

This is the giant neon arch in the center of town. Why an island that isn't exactly affluent spent a quarter of a million dollars on this neon monster, I don't know. 

This is my classroom at the National Park. 

Kayaking in a Slo Pony kayak. 

I had to cajole Matt into letting me use his dry bag so I could bring my camera in the kayak. He doesn't like to let go of his dry bag. 

Sometimes, it just rains.....

The view from the watchtower in the  National Park. 

The scary, rusty watchtower in the National Park. 
Very very sweaty from hiking. 

This is the entrance to Hospital Cave. It's a Vietnamese secret hospital they used during the American War (as they call it here, we know it as the Vietnam War). It's three stories inside a natural cave.  I don't have any good pictures from the inside because it was so dark, but it was mainly empty concrete rooms. 

This is a very tiny kitten that belongs to Trang, Erik's wife. 

Vietnamese tourists. The beaches are beautifully quiet before 3:30pm, then the Vietnamese come out in force when the sun is a bit less fierce. 

Matt is getting a massage from Mr. Vu, our massage guy. 

An empty beach before the tourists fill it. 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A few videos...

This is a time lapse video that I shot from the roof of our hotel. It's about 30 minutes condensed into about a minute and a half. This harbor is where many of the tourists on the island board their Halong bay cruises and is quite bustling in the morning! The littlest boats are actually the loudest and start waking us up around 5:30am.