Halong Bay

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
Trip End Jul 23, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  , Quang Ninh province,
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We had quite a good nights sleep in the cabin, although had to get up at 07:00 for breakfast. Before going to sleep I kept thinking about the escapee beetle insect thing that had jumped out of the fridge, I didn't like the thought of it crawling over me during the night. I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares.

Our itinerary differed from that of Vas and Jo, who were going to spend the second night of the tour on Monkey Island; so we said our Cheerios at breakfast. Compared to the lunch and supper we had had the day before; breakfast was a bit basic; tea/coffee, fruit, eggs and a couple of slices of bread, which was either dry or toasted.

At 08:30 we left the 'A Class Opera' to get on to the small boat which was going to take us to a 'Day Boat' . To be honest, neither Terry nor I knew what was going on at this point; the itinerary was not clear and the language barrier was challenging. Terry kept reiterating that we did not want to do Kayaking, and we were told that we could just 'do relaxing' on the boat.

The only other couple that had chosen not to do the Monkey Island itinerary, were a couple who Vas and Jo had introduced to us the previous night. Daniel and Janine were a young engaged couple from Switzerland who had been travelling together for a while. We started talking to them and they proved to be great fun to spend the day with.

When we got to the 'Day Boat' the Captain welcomed us warmly and offered us coffee, which we gladly accepted. I should say at this point, that the weather had not cheered up much; although it wasn't raining and visibility was a little better, it was still a bit chilly. I noticed the Captain only had two teeth and I wondered whether he had forgotten to put in his falsies, or whether he had given up on them. The Captain introduced us to his Bosun, a chap aged around 70, who was about a metre high. Together they made an odd couple, but the relationship seemed to work. Neither could speak a word of English so hand and body gestures played a huge part in communicating.

We met out Tour Guide, a young man called Nam. I couldn't tell you much more about him as I did not understand a word he said the rest of the day. I was not alone; Janine didn't have the foggiest idea either. Terry had to interpret the rest of the day to both of us and more people as the day went on.... but I digress.

We noted a small boat heading our way with three Kayaks attached to it.....Nam (apparently) said we were to follow him in the Kayak. Terry said again that we didn't want to Kayak. This seemed to upset Nam who was keen for us to join in, but Terry was adamant. Eventually Terry was able convince Nam we would be happy to 'do relaxing'.

Whilst the Kayakers were away, Terry and I went up on the top deck to take a good look at what was around us. We noticed many Eagles soaring from the top of the Karst's, then diving down into the Bay to catch fish. There were a lot of other boats in the Bay also; some passengers were diving in and having a swim -crazy.

When Janine and Daniel returned to the boat we were served lunch. Once again, there was much to much food for just the four of us; I'm not sure what had happened to Nam at this point, but he could have definitely benefitted from some fattening up.

After lunch we sailed a little further out into the Bay and once again the subject of Kayaks arose. Throwing all caution to the wind, I said to Terry that I was willing to give it a go.
Once in the Kayak, we paddled around the small bay that we were in and around a tall Karst that we later learned was featured in The Man with the Golden Gun.

It was tricky getting out of the Kayak and on to the ladder to get back in to the boat. I was just about to stand up when all of a sudden I felt my glasses fall off of my head and the next thing I saw was them sinking. Quick as lightening I plunged my left arm into the water and managed to catch them. Whilst I almost caused in inadvertent Eskimo Roll, I rescued my glasses, which was the main thing.

After lunch we sailed on to Soi Sim Beach Island, where, with Daniel and Janine, we climbed right to the top of a Karst. We were rewarded with breathtaking views across the Bay. We didn't have long on Soi Sim Beach Island and shortly after reaching the summit, it was time to start descending. In order to assist my balance, Terry went ahead of me and I held on to his shoulders. This was OK until Terry started slipping on loose rocks and at one point, he slipped and I fell on top of him and we sort of got stuck. This was when hysteria kicked in and I needed to find a shaded spot to relieve myself, not easy on a steep decline.

Back on the 'Day Boat, we sailed on to a floating Pearl Farm and Museum. This was really interesting as the Pearls were cultured; they cut a piece of the Oyster flesh and keep it 'live', put a small 'core' pearl into the Oysters stomach, cover it with the Oyster flesh and then put it back into the water. Between 3 - 5 years later, the Pearl will have 'grown' to a decent size.

After visiting the Pearl Factory, we were returned to the 'A Class Opera, for Supper and more socialising. We sat on a table with Janine and Daniel and an Australian couple that had only boarded that day; Rachel and James. James told us this fantastic story about Guinea Pig Roulette, which they had witnessed in South Vietnam, and showed us a photo that had us in stitches. It seemed everybody had different stories to tell and once again, we had a great evening. We retired to bed around 22:00 as had to be up early in the morning for Tai Chi......
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Mum on

I had to smile when i read the piece about the beetle, the apple doesn't fall far cos I thought straight after you said you saw the beetle I shuddered and thought my god I'll bet she thinks of that in bed, I know I would. You both seem to be having a great time, the pics are wonderful, take care love you both. xxxx

heidi on

love looking at the adventures you have done, very exciting stuff and im sure you have plenty more stories and pictures to share, am sorry i havent been looking along with everyone else completely forgot to give my email to you before you left and ask catherine for the link but i will be reading it every night now, interesting and inspiring journey :) xxx

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