We first met Bruce and Simone on our Cat Ba cruise, actually in the bus from Hanoi, when Bruce had the audacity to speak to a perfect stranger (me) and ask where we were from. By mid way to the first rest stop, our guide "Handsome John" was suggesting that Bruce and I sit together, so that our conversation would not interfere with other people (the nerve!).
Bruce is a Kiwi (New Zealander for anyone unfamiliar with the term) and Simone is an Aussie (Australian - duh!) and they are great people all around. We found many points of connection, not the least of which was when I asked Bruce whether our 11:00 am ferry ride was too early to have a beer, and he responded by handing me a cold one he had just purchased from one of the two vendors on the Cat Ba ferry.
Laura, Naomi and Simone bonded over talk of careers, travels and culture during the buy-two-get-one-free happy hour on board (a strangely effective marketing ploy), which flowed pretty naturally into a great dinner time conversation with all of the folks on the cruise.
B & S further endeared themselves to us when, after dinner on the cruise, Simone was ever so avid about trying to lure a squid using the unbaited line provided by the staff, and Bruce demonstrated both his lack of proficiency at singing, and his complete willingness to sing in spite of it. Karaoke consisted of me starting a song, then trying to sing harmony to Bruce's melody (since he was the only other person willing to sing on the entire boat) which immediately resulted in him doubling me on harmony. Maddening, but very fun.
The cruise night ended with our discovery that there actually was whiskey on the boat, which led to Bruce and I staying up late solving the problems of the world including talk about the Boeing 737 Max, Google and fake news, politics and religion, aided by our friends Dewars and Jamieson. We basically solved all of the world's problems, but I struggle to remember what we came up with.
Following the cruise, we realized that we would all be in Da Nang at the same time, and met up for after dinner drinks, where we managed to find the first dark beer I had experienced since coming to Asia.
A couple of nights later we met up again in beautiful old town Hoi An, initially to watch Scotland get soundly trounced by Ireland in World Cup Rugby (a sad day for me) and then to have dinner in the old town.
We are looking forward to meeting up with them in their natural habitat in Christchurch in November. We've already been influenced by them, adding both New Zealand and the Cook Islands to our itinerary for late fall (um "spring" down under). It has been great making new friends and gaining the perspective from the opposite side of the world.