After a week in Vietnam I was getting ready for what I believed would be one of the best places of my trip: Ha Long Bay. That night I was to stay at Cat Ba Island and the next day I would leave to Ha Long. I had a whole afternoon there, so I went out for a walk along the pier, at the sea there were dozens of rudimentary boats inhabited by families of amphibian-men, perfectly used to sea life. Dogs hanged around on the decks of the floating houses. While outside the sun went down, inside those boats and houses people were engaged in their everyday activities, some looked after the fish farming nets, others bought or sold items to trader women in boats.
There were few tourists in the island and most restaurants and bars were empty, everybody was eating at the same restaurant, an italian one. I wanted to take a look at the local market hoping to find fresh seafood, at that time it was closed but one of the nearby restaurants was still open. I asked for stewed fish, with lemongrass of course, and a mango juice and, while waiting, I watched the fishes in the aquarium and drank tea. In the kitchen a young man prepared my dish and out everyone else stared at me with curiosity and filled my cup again every time it got empty.
The fish was ready before the juice, something quite unusual. A few minutes later one of the boys arrived in a hurry with a blender and went straight to the kitchen, apparently he brought it from the other side of the island. The juice was delicious, I wanted another one but I realized they wanted to close and I was shy to ask for it, so I paid and said goodbye. They stood there talking noisily and I went on the way to the hotel, on the road I came into another empty restaurant and asked for another mango juice. I stood there waiting for a while, the juice didn’t come, it comes right now, I was told. Finally a girl arrived with a blender, my juice was made and the blender immediately washed and returned, perhaps it was needed in another restaurant.