Walking the plank.
I arranged a private tour of Ha Long Bay, a beautiful cluster of tiny islands about 3.5 hours (with traffic) east of Hanoi. My guide for the day was Kien, and unlike my guide yesterday, Kien is passionately invested in politics. We talked history, politics, religion, economics, foreign policy, diplomacy, the Taliban and his general distaste for the Communist party. Quickly I learned that when he said "Let me tell you..." that meant something good and juicy was coming and I needed to pay close attention. I asked him if his friends and family shared his beliefs and he said that they are too scared to say anything against the government. I asked him how he felt about that and he said:
"Let me tell you... If I say nothing, my children have no future. If I do nothing, my children have no future. So.. I say and do something."
After a long and crazy drive (the Vietnamese give zero fucks about traffic laws) we made it to the bay. We boarded our boat, which I had all to myself, complete with a captain, a first mate and a chef. We set out through a maze of tiny islands and soon I was served lunch under a big umbrella at the front of the boat. A larger boat with many people spotted me eating alone and started waving and taking pictures. One man yelled through his window, "Where you from?" and I responded "America". Immediately, more cameras came out. He then yelled "Who are you?" and I was tempted to yell "Julia Roberts!"
But I didn't.
We sailed for about an hour or so and then docked at one of the bigger tiny islands to tour a few caves (which were incredible). After the hike we returned to our boat and we set sail back to the main dock. The boat moved slow enough so that the only sounds I could hear were the birds chirping overhead and the waves gently lapping the bottom of the boat and from underneath my umbrella I smiled.
And let me tell you...
There was peace. 🙏🌴⛵