Asia featured Vietnam

The Day I Became A Translator At Halong Bay

Halong Bay is one of those places you’ve gotta see in Vietnam! It’s famous for its karst landscapes, caves, and beautiful little islands. I joined a day tour and we took a 2.5 hour bus from Hanoi to the Vietnam coast to check it out.

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While waiting for our ferry I spotted three girls who I thought were Chinese, and (as I have that foreigner tendency to do) I threw my friendship onto them.

“Hello! Where are you from?” I asked. You know, just to make sure.

She said shyly, “China. Sorry my English is poor.”

“Meiguanxi! Wo hui shuo yi dian dian zhongwen. Wo shi yingyu laoshi,” I said back and she smiled, either because my Chinese introduction was very bad or she was actually happy to meet me. (I said, “It’s okay. I speak a little Chinese. I’m an English teacher.”)

We spoke for a while and she introduced me to her friends, and it turned out they were from Guangzhou! And two of them work in Panyu, the same area I work in! It’s a small world.

On the ferry I also struck up conversation with a woman traveling solo from Korea and a guy from Japan. After another bus ride we made it to our boat and had lunch. I sat with my new friends from Korea, Japan and China and I found myself translating between all of them. The Korean girl would ask a long English question to the Chinese girls and I would simplify it to the most basic Chinese words I knew, and this went on back and forth for awhile.

I’m a terrible translator actually and I’m sure so much was lost in translation, but it was so funny to attempt and find out I knew more Chinese than I thought I did! I love meeting new Chinese people and having the chance to practice my Chinese. And it’s always amazing to see how friendships can be formed even with language barriers! People are people no matter where you’re from.


Even though it was cloudy, the bay was still beautiful. We all went on top of the boat to get a better view, and I met a British-Filipino girl who was also teacher in China, and a Vietnamese-Canadian doing in internship in Japan. WeChat Image_20180223142819


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My Chinese, Korean, and British friends

We left our big boat to take smaller boats out to a cave and a different part of the bay. We had fun singing Chinese songs with the Chinese girls and joking with the other people in our boat.

On our way back to the ferry the sun finally came out!

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I had a blast meeting so many new people on my boat, attempting to be a translator, and seeing the famous Halong Bay! I’d have loved to stay longer – if I have the chance I want to come back and do kayaking and swimming here (and hopefully see more of the sun next time!)

Check out this short highlight video of my time in Vietnam:


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