So today we went to Halong Bay, but first we needed to endure a 3 hour bus ride. Instead of letting the sleep deprived teams sleep at 6:00 in the morning, the bus guide wants us to play "games" and sing. This actually happens on nearly every bus trip, but it was really noticeable today because the trip to Halong Bay was so long. The trip was so long the US team made its first real purchase of food in Vietnam during the break in the trip. We bought a pack of 6 choco-pies (yes clones of the thing that hostess makes). Oh they were so good.
The games usually consist of the guide asking a riddle, and the teams on the bus competing to be the first to answer it. The guides of course understand that these are the best high school physicists in the world, so they ask us questions like "Where in the world does yesterday follow today?" See, the question incorporates the special theory of relativity, and the answer was "a dictionary". There were some other great questions as well.
"What's the saddest piece of clothing?"
"Why are dogs afraid to sit out in the sun?"
"What's the longest word in the English language?"
"In Oklahoma, you can't take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. Why?"
and like a bunch of other ones. Actually, we the tour guides didn't even get to ask us half the questions because the US team was so good at physics we knew the answer before the guides were done asking the questions. Yeah so the final score was like US: 11, UK: 4, rest of bus like 4 total. When the guides didn't feel like asking questions, we played Simon says for a while, and of course sang. The high point of that was probably our guide Quang singing a parody of James Blunt's you're beautiful.
The boats in Halong Bay were nothing like the ones we used to get to the Perfume Pagoda or to dodge the stalactites in the Eco-tourism centre. The boat we used for the Perfume Pagoda in particular was solid metal, floated about an inch above water level, and was powered by a 10 hoursepower, 4 cylinder, old lady. The coaches will probably post a picture of teh Halong boats pretty soon, but they were pretty standard two story group sightseeing boats. As a whole, these boats were more comfortable but less satisfying than the smaller boats we used in other trips because they were so high above water level.
The only place in Halong Bay that we actually made landfall on was the Heavenly palace grotto. The cave was incredibly big, and it was really eerie because fruity colored strip lighting was spread across the entire cave. Stalagmites and tites had fused so much that they formed dragon shaped statues. Hopefully the coaches will post pictures about the cave too, because it's kind of hard to describe its humongousness with words.