The Wonder that is Halong Bay

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, September 7, 2012

7.9.12 - On Our Way to Halong Bay

We got picked up at 07:30 and were joined by four other guests on the minivan, all of which were Romanian. Our guide Tuan - otherwise known as Tim informed us that as it was low season we were actually the only guests for the trip - could be awkward. 

After a 20 minute stop off at their would be service station, come jewelry and bric a brac shop, we arrived into Halong bay at about 12:30. We were checked into our cabins which seemed nice, it will be weird sleeping on a boat but at least the sea here is very calm. 

We got called for lunch which ended up being a 7 course affair, we were stuffed at the end of it, Vietnamese food is very tasty. After lunch we arrived at Vung Vieng floating village, we chose to kayak around the village. We were having so much fun paddling, it was much more fun than we thought - pretending to be in the olympics was the best part...until Heather’s paddle came off..she had to row like Mogli the rest of the way. 

Afterwards we had look round an oyster farm, the girl was surgically inserting things into the young oysters so that in three years they would develop into pearls - Matt made the obligatory pearl neckless joke, no surprise they didn’t get it . 

We went to the ‘sunset boat party’ (all six of us) and were given some sangria. Then after a few drinks we had a cooking class (probably not the best idea) where everyone made prawn spring rolls. Too soon after that we had another 7 course banquet. Over dinner we were joined by Paul a Pom who had lived in Melbourne for the last 8 years, we had an interesting chat with him, the Romanians and the crew, out on the sun deck which lasted until the early hours and involved lots of drinking. 

Luckily we managed to save money on our bar bill with some true backpacking style. Matt picked up some beers from the floating shop, at half the price of our bar. We then kept sneaking down stairs everytime we needed a new drink! 

8.9.12 - New Boat New Sites 

As we got to bed late last night so getting up early was unpleasant this morning on the boat. Both our tummies had turned, again we had a call from Tim to call us for breakfast even though we had 30 minutes left to have it- Matthew its sunset, Matthew we have arrived, Matthew, Matthew, MATTHEW!!!

We changed to a smaller more appropriately sized boat today which meant that getting ready took even longer, but it seems worth it as the new room is larger and has a panoramic window, although its raining the view out the window is surreal. 

We arrived at Monkey Island at about 10, it was still raining hard. we kayaked around an open cave and some tunnels. We saw some lightning flash overhead and then a huge crack of thunder, it was so loud, we’ve never heard thunder like that, it was brilliant. We carried on past the islands and didn’t see any monkeys although Matt kept on beckoning them over by making monkey noises - all we saw was some jelly fish and crabs!

Then we collected some torches and bravely went into a pitch black cave that had bats inside. It was fun paddling through the darkness into the narrow passages, that were even smaller as it was high tide. We had to turn back though as the tide was too high and meant that we were blocked. We returned to the boat (it was still raining). We watched the crew fishing and decided to have a go, we both caught some fish for the BBQ banquet that we were served at lunch.

After lunch we had a ride to the beach which was 1 1/2 hours, so as it had stopped raining we sunbathed and slept (Matt snored). We climbed to the highest peak which was higher than it looked. We kept slipping and sliding everywhere and arrived feeling hot and sticky. 

We had a swim in the bay until some Chinese tourists arrived who seemed overly excited about canoeing. One of them even struck Heather with an ore, at which point Matt attempted to capsize them!

We watched sunset on the sundeck and awaited the next 7 course banquet. This time it was even more of a feast as it was the captains birthday, the staff had made amazing things for decorations in the middle of the table. Nevertheless we are now fully stuffed and sleepy, hopefully we will have an early night.

9.9.12 - Amazing Caves - Awkward Trains

Matthew got called for breakfast 5 minutes early again! The five of us shared a buffet breakfast and then the boat took us to the Amazing Caves - yes that’s its real name, it even comes complete with Disney music. The cave itself lived up to its name and was huge, it looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. 

Back on the boat we had a ride back to shore, Matt got really into it and even steered the boat, until Matthew’s name was called once again for more food

We checked out of the boat and had another 3 1/2 hour minivan journey ahead of us - complete with the obligatory stop off. We got to the train station in time for our 13 hour journey to Hue. 

We got to our seats and someone was sat in them, Matt eventually got them to move, with a little help from the locals. We sat on table seats awkwardly facing a man and his two children. We passed the time teaching them English, which they found hilarious. The entire journey when the children were awake they didn’t stop eating; they had cereal, crisps, gum, sweets, developing eggs with half formed chicks inside, savory rice pudding and cookies! God help us with the rest of this journey, its like a cattle market!

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