Turning 26 on Monkey Island

I’ve never been one to do anything big and fancy for my birthday, and so the same was true for while we were travelling. Mitch and I wanted to go on a Ha Long Bay tour and it just so happened that we booked it a few days before my birthday. After toying with different tour companies (there are hundreds offering trips to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam), we opted to go with Hanoi Central Backpackers Hostel. Unlike some more luxury boat trips, this offered a stay on Monkey Island. For us, it was a good mix between socialising and doing activities.

Monkey Island
Monkey Island, our home for a couple of nights. Totally gorgeous apart from the litter in the sea.


Despite a few organisational hiccups and arriving late, the trip was fantastic. We opted for the 3 days, 2 nights option. The first day consisted of cruising along the bay with some kayaking, swimming, and cliff jumping. I did not jump off the 11-metre cliff, but Mitch did. The second day was by far my favourite as a smaller group of us went to Cat Ba Island to do some cycling and hiking. When I say hiking, what I really mean is ridiculous climbing through an unpaved forest. We were greeted by massive spiders, and when we asked our tour guide if they were poisonous, he said he wasn’t sure… Okay then. So we avoided them just in case.

After trekking, we had a lazy afternoon chilling and swimming before returning to the island. It was during this time after the fun filled afternoon when I sat on the balcony near our room, put some music on, and did some writing. I’d like to share it with you now.

I feel a sense of blissful contentment. This is a true peak of my life, which isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed what’s come before. I really, truly have. What did I do to deserve a life of such happiness? I should be more thankful. I don’t think life will get much better than this.

I could hear the sound of the sea over my music and people having fun, playing volleyball and other such games on the beach. I was in a wonderful setting with my best friend and boyfriend and some lovely new friends too.

I woke up the next day to it being my actual birthday. That whole day I was actually very tired — the place where we stayed consisted of a 30-bed dorm with little air conditioning and a karaoke bar downstairs. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much.

The dorm room wasn’t the best, but the view from where we cleaned our teeth made it worth it.


In the morning I enjoyed the beach and went for a swim on Monkey Island. Mitch and two great friends we made there sang “Happy Birthday” to me in the sea. That was all I wanted really: nothing big, just a few friends.

The afternoon was spent travelling back to Hanoi. When we arrived back at our hostel I was so happy to have a hot shower and some fresh clothes. After which, Mitch took me out to dinner. We found a pizza place (I know we’re in Vietnam but it was my birthday and I wanted pizza), so ate some great food and had some actual prosecco from Italy! Whenever we tried to have prosecco in China, it always turned out to be sparkling wine.

Mitch know’s the way to my heart is prosecco and pizza.


So that was a delightful way to end my birthday. I don’t feel older or reminiscent that being 25 is over.

What I can say is that I’m really happy with where I am at the moment and what I’m doing in life. I have to remind myself from time to time how damn lucky I am.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes, lovely friends.

Monkey Island
Sunset on Monkey Island


  1. Dad says:

    Helen you are an inspirational writer!!!

  2. I think the beauty of the beach at the time of sunset was awesome. Over all it was a decent post to appreciate.

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