Ha Long journey to the Bay!

Trip Start Nov 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 14, 2013

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Where I stayed
A Class Opera Cruise

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, December 3, 2012

Early bird catches the worm! Or in our case, the bananas!

Up for 06:00 to get our stuff sorted out for the cruise. We ended up paying $318 for 2days/1night for the honeymoon suite on the A Class Opera. It's got some really good reviews so we're confident that we're going to be happy with it.

We grabbed some breakfast from the hotel before we left. Ordered a tuna panini & got a cheese & ham sandwich. Need to learn Vietnamese.

I like egg. That's what I had (Lisa's input).

Got picked up around 08:30. A little insight into our coach journey...we had to do a few pick ups from other hotels before leaving Hanoi. Our first stop was to pick up 3 Americans. We could see they were having an argument with the receptionist in their hotel & it turns out they were trying to get a refund. One lady, who we now know is called Robin, stayed to argue as a policeman hurried the coach along. It meant we drove off & left her behind. Her 2 friends were far from happy. She finally got on at another stop about 20 minutes later where she had no problem letting us all know who she was & where she was from. A zumba instructor from Washington. Her next incident was after our stop half way through. She got back on the coach with a hot tea. As the coach drove off it decided to drive straight into a metal bollard. It just so happened that Rockin' Robin (we'll explain in a bit) was taking a sip from her boiling Vietnamese tea at the exact same time. All we heard was 'FUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!' As we looked round it was hard not to laugh as the tea dribbled off of her nose. The commotion that followed was your stereotypical over-dramatic American. Anyway, we arrive at the port where we are taken to a shuttle boat that takes us to the cruise boat. We noticed straight away that Rockin' Robin wasn't on the boat but didn't feel it was our place to say anything. When the keys were being given out the tour guide realised he had people missing. We told him Rockin' Robin & her chums weren't on the shuttle boat. We don't know what happened next but we heard her about half hour later. We had already sussed out what kind of person she was & she confirmed this later in the evening when she had her own Karaoke concert. She had already let us know that she was a zumba instructor but somehow she managed to let everyone know her name. This was just in time for her to sing Rockin' Robin & California Dreaming. We're not sure if she was involved in it or not but the last thing we heard before bed was Born in the U.S.A. In Vietnam. Good one.

Obviously, this was just bits & pieces of what happened today. The cruise itself was everything we hoped it would be. We were given a welcome drink upon arrival before getting to our room & finding a nice bottle of wine & some fruit. The bathroom actually had a bath & a sneaky little surprise window where we were both offered beers by the boat shop whilst we were showering!

Interesting fact, Halong Bay means 'Descending Dragon Bay'.

After lunch, consisting of a lot of fresh sea food, we were taken to a floating village where we took a Kayak to have a closer look at the 'karsts' (what the rocks are named). To ensure Lisa didn't just sit, do nothing & complain of arm ache, she sat in the front! We went through some of the karsts which opened out into small lagoons. It was very pretty!

Our next little activity was to climb up Titop Island. There were 425 steps to the top but when we got up there the view was worth it. The sun was starting to go down by now so after taking plenty of photos we headed back down towards our taxi boat ready to take us back to the cruise ship.

We had about an hour before dinner so we finally got a hot shower & headed up to the restaurant area. We went to the top deck to take some pictures of the bay at night. Chris insisted I took a photo of part of the bay, once finished I turned around to find Chris on one knee with a ring box in his hand. After 'umming & arring' & a long debate (JOKE!) I said yes!

We went back to the restaurant afterwards & the first person to find out was our tour guide (Zen). He seemed just as happy as us! At dinner, Zen, announced to the rest of the passengers & made us stand up in front of everyone. We got a very nice but embarrassing reception! After dinner (a.k.a tea for the northern readers) we listened to the karaoke until Rockin' Robin took over and hurt our ears. Bed time.

Day 2

Woke up at 05:00. We were told that we might be able to watch the sunrise but Lisa had other ideas & slept in a bit longer. She claims that's why she's so beautiful! There were some weights on the top deck so I went & threw them about for a bit. Lisa got up about 05:30 in the end & came up on top deck to try & watch the sunrise. Unfortunately it was too cloudy & we couldn't see it but Lisa learnt that a day can begin before 10:00 so it wasn't all bad!

One of the crew was a Tai Chi master & they done a 07:00 class on the top deck. We would have given it a go but we knew that Rockin' Robin would be up there turning it into a zumba class (& we were right!) so we gave it a miss.

Breakfast at 07:00 then on to the 'Surprising, Amazing Cave'. Our taxi boat dropped us off at the bottom of what seemed like a mountain. The cave was split into 3 parts with a combined total space of 10k squared kilometres. Zen told us that a river used to run through the cave which explained the shape of the limestone on the ceiling.

Next up was a spring roll cookery class. After fighting off the over-eager Americans we finally got a go. It's not as easy as it looks. The rice paper was really thin so broke pretty easily.

That was our last activity on the cruise & all that was left was for us to have lunch before departing. We both agreed that it was everything we had hoped it would be.

We got back to our hotel in Hanoi at about 17:00 which gave us about an hour to get something to eat before setting off for the train station. Before we went for food we thought we'd check that our train tickets were there just to save any last minute problems. We were told by the hoteliers girlfriend that they were ready & we could have them when we were back from our meal. Straight away Lisa said something wasn't right. Sure enough, as soon as we got back, Damien was there. He told us that the train we were meant to be on had issues with the brakes & that we wouldn't be able to get the train. The last thing we wanted was to spend another night in Hanoi. He went on to tell us that he had booked us on the 23:00 train but we had been downgraded to a second class hard sleeper. Neither of us were really bothered at this point. We just wanted to be in Da Nang for the following day. To his credit though he refunded us the difference from our previous ticket & off we went.

We jumped in a taxi with a another couple from New Zealand. They were doing the same journey as us. The rooms are tiny with two rows of three beds high. Lisa had a middle bunk & I'm in the top bunk. Going to try & sleep now so we'll continue with the story tomorrow.
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