Halong Bay

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, December 6, 2012

I timed my journey to Hanoi so I could arrange a trip out to Halong Bay for my birthday and what an adventure it turned out to be.
I met a lovely girl Maria while booking up and a young guy Adrian so we all booked the same trip together. I had already done some checking and we were getting a good deal on the two night tour which meant one night on board a junk out in Halong Bay (on my birthday) and one night on Cat Ba island the following day.  In the morning we all met at the reception and it turned out 20 of us all from the hostel were on the same tour, 5 guys from Argentina, 4 Israeli girls, 3 German guys and a few more … which was fantastic.
Our guide was funny, when checking us all in realised it was my birthday which she announced and the whole bus sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me, which was really nice.  After our bus journey out to Halong Bay (a UNESCO world heritage site) we were taken out to our boat a ‘junk’ named Christina on a tender and my first sail out from the bay which was fab.  The whole place is full of tourists but even still I love it, I’ve just always wanted to get here, all the boats are amazing and the limestone stacks incredible.
Once we’re on board we get our rooms and have a nice lunch of seafood before heading out to explore with the first stop being out to some of the floating villages… these were amazing.  We got into kayaks from one of them and the woman putting us all into the kayak’s young 2 yr old son was running around with no life jacket, my heart was in my mouth just watching him… we rowed out to the many limestone islands many of which have massive caves inside, and round the floating villages before returning to visit Tip Top island where we climbed to the viewpoint on the top then went on to visit ‘surprising’ cave which I couldn’t believe the size of, the inside looks like something from an alien movie, the texture of the inside is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  So after an eventful day it was back onboard for dinner and karaoke which was interesting although I think we all ended up sitting on top deck making our own fun. 
Next morning was an early start as we headed out to Cat Ba Island and a bit of trekking to the tower viewpoint before having some free time in the afternoon.  Most of us decided to hire motorbikes and head off round the island and to explore the many caves which was great fun, with six bikes heading off to explore.  Probably the best cave for me was the hospital one, we had a great guide show us around who made it lots of fun, this cave had hospital rooms, kitchen, swimming pool, cinema area and they could stay down here a long, long time.
So after another great day we all headed out for the evening and made many more new friends and I was delighted to meet a fellow Scot, putting my name up on a Scotland flag in the pub.  So after adventures it was back to Hanoi where we all continued to hang out together for a few days.  
Another memorable trip!  
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