Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The New Hanoians take on Halong Bay

The 1st annual Grass Roots and Bamboo Shoots in the Bay occurred on Saturday, September 26th. We gathered in Downtown Hanoi for some breakfast and coffee at 7:30 am on Saturday morning and waited to board the three buses that would be taking all 150 of us to Halong Bay. The trip was long but not uncomfortable and everyone was anxious to get on the beautiful junks, we could see awaiting our arrival, anchored in the bay.
After a short organizational stopover at the Bhaya building we were ferried over to the junks where we were showered with rose petals as we made our way onto the boat.We were led upstairs to the dining area and given a welcome cocktail. We all found a seat and listened while the organizer welcomed us and gave a short orientation speech.
Our names were called out and we collected our room keys.
The rooms were awesome. Private balconies and soft, plush double beds. It was so much better than any junk I had ever been on before. We quickly settled in to our room and hurried upstairs again to have lunch. I filled my stomach with surf and turf and then it was time to decide if we wanted to go swimming, kayaking or take a nap. WE took a nap.
I was woken up an hour or so later and told we had to head over to the cave right away to do soundcheck. I jumped out of bed and gathered everything I needed. I was still rubbing sleep out of my eyes as I boarded the little shuttle ferry for the 20 minute ride to the cave.
The cave, or Grotto if you prefer, was outstanding. It was massive and wide with steps leading up from the water. We took a few moments to take the amazing location in before getting down to business and doing soundcheck. With the help of Sean, soundcheck went smoothly and we were ready to have a cold beer or two by 5:30.
The rest of the people arrived about a half hour later to more rose petals and insane but very appropriate music creating a surreal atmosphere that everyone was quite taken with.
The Jagermeister, rum and beer were attacked with gusto and everyone was able to have a drink or two before sitting down to yet another wonderful bbq buffet. The band got changed and made our way to the stage after dinner. We played two 45 minute sets in the coolest location I have ever seen. With free rum, beer and jager flowing all evening, it can't be too hard to imagine that people got a little tipsy. DJ Kulture came on after us and spun tunes until they finally had enough and kicked us out.
We finished off the evening with some bottles of wine and some Bitburger beer on the top deck of boat 3. It was a fantastic ending to one of the best days I can remember having in a long time. Great work Eliot and the rest of the gang at New Hanoian and Bhaya cruises. Well done.

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