Rumble in Halong Bay
Let's face it: when we travel, we meet some of the coolest people this world has to offer. But what about the complete asshole travellers we meet along the way? I feel like they don't get nearly enough attention on travel blogs and that's not fair to them. As crazy as it may sound, they actually are part of our marvelous journeys given that they always leave us with stories to remember.
One of my favorite stories took place at the Hang Sung Sot caves in Halong Bay, Vietnam in which me and my Contiki group almost came to blows with a group of seemingly elderly French tourists. Yep - a group of 18 to 35 year olds versus a 55+ tour group in a cave within one of the natural wonders of the world.
For those that have been, the Hang Sung caves consist of a cavernous system, with stalagmites and stalactites made over the course of eons. The interior is huge, with a somewhat narrow walkway created so that one can navigate their way throughout the caves without stepping on, and destroying the rock formations protruding from the floor.
Given the narrow walkway and the number of tourists, everyone has to be courteous to make this work. From the moment we had arrived though, there had been a pushy group of French tourists who kept bumping into us to get by us, only to later fall behind, and then push forward again. It got so bad, that even the most docile girls in our group were getting irritated with their unnecessary physicality and rude behavior.
The climax came towards the end of our tour. One of the French tourists and his wife had apparently fallen behind the rest of his group. Keep in mind, his group hadn't left without him - they were probably only about 20 feet ahead on the path. No boat was leaving them behind, nor was any plane taking off. I noticed him coming up behind me in a rush. Fortunately, I was prepared this time. As predicted, he tried to shove me out of the way, but fortunately I was ready and pushed back right as he was pushing me, which almost caused him to lose his balance (better him getting impaled by a stalagmite than me).
As he cursed at me in French, he proceeded to stumble forward, now trying to push Luke, one of the Australians in my group. Luke was in the Navy and one of the coolest guys you'd ever meet, but was having none of this nonesense so he engaged in a war of words. Yep, a fight was about to break out in the middle of Halong Bay, high above the sea in a big cave.
Fortunately the guy and his wife plodded along cursing under their breath, as though somehow their stupidity and behavior was the fault of everyone else.
While it was annoying at the time, it would become a story that me and my Contiki friends from that trip would reminisce about for years to come.