The Bay of Islands, Vietnam Style...

Trip Start Sep 19, 2009
Trip End May 19, 2010

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Dang Tam Boat

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, April 8, 2010

So, after just over 24 hours in Hanoi we were off to Halong Bay. There are hundreds of tours on offer at all kinds of prices. We went with the one our hostel offered us, which was more pricey than most but sounded well worth it, and lets face it at $60 per person including food, bed and transfers, was still cheap! First, we had 4 hours on mini bus - squashed at the back with a broken vent blowing air con at us full pelt - so we were doing our best to cover it up and keep warm! 2 hours along, we stopped at this huge ceramic shop for a break, before making it to Halong City and waiting another 30 minutes before we could board the boat. We were then welcomed by very attentive staff on board, and a scrummy prawn salad lunch, nice touch.

We spent the day cruising through the limestone islands, sitting up on top deck, (luckily no rain today but very hazy). The boat stopped at a huge cave, and we walked through it staring at amazingly huge stalagmites and stalactites and rock formations. It took us about an hour to walk through, with some loose interpretation of animal shaped rocks being pointed out on a regular basis. After the caves, we got into our swimming gear and headed off in Kayaks to a very peaceful inlet, avoiding the motored boats coming through alongside us (which gave our arms a good workout). 2 girls on our boat did unfortunately (but also very amusingly) manage to fall into the water, while trying to get into the kayak! After showers, it was beer time - sitting on the roof, watching the sun through the haze before a 'Steamboat' dinner; we had all the raw ingredients, and cooked them ourselves in a pot of boiling water on our table. We were all a little clueless, so the staff on board had to start it all off for us and, although we kept losing bits of meat in the water, it was all good fun and delicious!!

After a good sleep in our spacious double cabin, we awoke to find our sunrise walk was cancelled due to rain and haze, which meant a slightly longer lie in than planned – certainly not the end of the world! It was then time to say goodbye to most of the group, who were doing another 2 days along with our extremely enthusiastic and jokey guide, before we picked up more folk and headed back to port. On the way back, we towed another boat on the side of ours as it had engine problems. Some of its passengers jumped onto our boat, as we had a cover up on our deck from the rain. However, after 45 mins, the boat (which was now supposedly fixed) veered off, and we saw 4 frantic tourists running and jumping from the roof of our boat to theirs! With the distance between the boats growing, the last guy made it by the skin of his teeth – jumping at full stretch and hanging onto the edge before his friends helped him up!!!

Back on dry land, we had the same journey back to Hanoi where we grabbed some food at the hostel, before heading to the train station for an overnighter to Hue.
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