Not so much snorkeling, and lots of lanterns.

Hey Dad,

Well today marks the day of the 1st annual memorial fishing match in your honour. According to mum the uptake of people wanting to fish has been ridiculous. They’ve even had a shield made! I can remember you going off on memorial fishing days, never for one second did I think people would someday be doing the same for you, not this soon anyway. 

Well I can’t be there today, but the rest of the family are going down to watch. I decided as I can’t be there, and I can’t go fishing I would do the next best thing. I went snorkeling. Well sort of. I booked a trip out to Cham island, which was a 30 minute journey by speed boat. From there the tour guide walked us through the local fishing village. It was similar to Cambodia, with live fish in small dishes with barely enough water to keep them alive.

Well I thought it couldn’t get any worse watching fish suffer like that. It did. There was a barbecue, and they were taking live shrimp, and jamming them in a fish slice, they were squirming trying to break free. They then put the slice straight on the open flame. They were really squirming then. I looked away before they stopped squirming. I really struggled to see why they could not kill them quickly and as painlessly as possible, instead of cooking them to death. Yuck! 

After the fishing village tour we got back on the boat to go snorkeling. Well what a disappointment that was. First hilarity was the mask and snorkel. They were discusting. Black with mould, especially the mouth piece. They had never been cleaned, let alone sterilised. No way! The rest of the group looked in disbelief too. We told the guide we would like them cleaned. He picked them up, dipped them in the water over the boat and proceeded to hand them back. Nope. We all just looked at him, and showed him the black. Eventually he came back with different snorkels which were cleaner. Not clean, but cleaner. 

After I attacked the snorkel with a tissue and hand sanitiser I jumped into the water. Well the sea bed did not really live up to much. Grey coral and about five fish. There were however loads of jelly fish. After ten minutes and being stung for the third time I gave up and got back on the boat. Half the tour had already beaten me to it. We snorkeled for 10 minutes. A seven hour tour for 10 minutes of snorkeling. Oh well. The rest of the tour was spent on a relatively nice beach. A seafood lunch was included. After seeing the state of the snorkels, the table cloth and the plates, with the added trauma of watching live shrimp being cooked to death, I didn’t dare touch the food! I just lied and told them I was vegetarian. 

Back in the town, the place was gearing up for the lantern festival. Hoian was rammed with people who had come in on busses. As it got dark, the whole town turned off the electric, and all the outdoor lights. The only light came from the lanterns. 

After a few drinks with a group of English people at the hotel I set off just wandering around. The festival was just amazing. Local music, dancers, boats and of course lanterns. Thousands of lanterns were just sailing down the river, it was an incredible sight. 

After a walk, I took a boat out onto the river, I lit my lantern and placed it in the water. Then I sat and watched it sail away. As dozens of people were fishing a match for you, I was in a boat lighting a lantern. I know you were not one for grand gestures, and would probably turn your nose up at it, but I felt like I needed to do something. Lighting a lantern seemed to fit. It seemed even more fitting when watching it your lantern was the only one to go against the tide and go upstream! How is that even possible?! Always have to stand out and be difficult. 

You would have enjoyed the festival. You would have hated the people, but there are some very nice restaurants lining the river with balconies. I imagine you would have been very comfortable watching it all unfold from a distance away from the crowd. No doubt with a glass in hand. 

I can not believe I have to pack up again and move on. I wish I could stay longer here, this is by far my favourite place in Vietnam. Well off to Hanoi tomorrow. From an ancient town to basically the capital of the North. I was also told today it has been cold and stormy weather in Hanoi for the past few days. Hope that clears up. Although I expect their idea of cold is still mid twenties! 

Early flight again tomorrow, but not much point in trying to sleep with the party still going on. 

By the way, I am writing this while waiting for something to eat. As my hotel is on the water front I figured I would make life easy and grab something on the patio overlooking the festival. Well I have been here an hour. Ordered a burger, waitress came back, no burgers. Ordered a pizza, waitress came back, no pizza. Ordered a mojito, you can guess the next bit. So it’s been an hour and I have got as far as ordering a sandwich and some chips. Wonder if they will manage it? Considering the menu only had burgers and pizzas, and this is most likely the busiest night for trade you would think they would be more prepared. 

Should have gone to the Mr. Bean themed bar next door. Yes really, Mr. Bean. 

Night dad x


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