Halong Bay Fiasco

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Woke up bright and early to prepare for our trip to Halong Bay. Having booked our trip elsewhere we checked out with some trepidation but they didn't bat an eyelid so we decided to store our bags there until our return.

Slightly late we were picked up in a minibus and taken on a tour round the city picking up other people, who I assumed were on our tour. Very surprised when we stopped outside the Hilton and picked up 2 people. Didn't expect them to be mingling with riff raff like us!

After 30 minutes of driving around town the guide told Dave and I to get off the bus! No idea why but we ended up getting on a normal bus rather than the minibus, which obviously cost more.

It took 4 hours in total to get to Halong City and we still didn't know what boat we were on or who we were with. The journey was very pleasant though and some of the newer houses were gorgeous. Vietnamese tall thin style with Parisian touches. We also passed loads of fields and it was great to watch the locals at work.

Once we arrived at the city we still had no idea what was going on, so we stood around for a while. Eventually we were shepherded into a restaurant for a seafood lunch that wasn't exactly appealing before heading to our boat.

On board we realised we had no kayaks as promised, although every other boat had plenty. We also only had 4 sunloungers, I bagged one, between 14 of us. The other poor suckers had to sit on primary school style tiny plastic chairs which I found very funny.

I haven't told you the best bit yet, about our travelling guests for the next 2 days. Yep on our boat were the very same 5 French people who kicked us out the taxi the day before! This was time for retribution!

We tried to make conversation with them but they totally blanked us so we were pretty pissed off. Thank God for the 2 Irish guys who were just like us and wanted to have a good time! They had a problem with the French people as well, so it wasn't just us. We turned into the epitome of the worst travellers that tend to frequent the Mediterranean beaches every summer!

After 40 minutes of sitting in the dock we finally pulled away. Our guide came on deck and started to tell everyone about the legend of Halong Bay, dragons descending into the water making the islands etc. He mentioned something about the dragon fighting off invaders, to which I whispered to the guys, "yeah the French". Dave and the Irish guys found it so hilarious listening to the guides ramblings that they had to go the front of the boat to refrain from bursting into laughter!

Our first stop was some cave. The guide mentioned something about eagles, monkeys, dragons and even at one stage breasts shown in the rocks. We couldn't care less really. The cave looked man made and the neon lights everywhere made it look really tacky. I mean this cave was found less than 10 years ago, yet it is on the closest island to the mainland! Either it is man made or they are just blind/lazy!

Happily back on the boat we set off for the next place, a floating village. By this point they had faffed around on the bus and dock so long that the sun was setting and it was getting cold. All we had wanted to do was sit around and catch a few rays, look at a few islands and drink a few bevies.

After the floating village we stopped at a beach to go kayaking. As soon as we got off the boat however we were told to get back onboard as it was too busy and we would go to the next island instead.

At the next island we were gob smacked. We had left an island where there was only one boat, that was supposedly too busy, to go to one where there was an entire armada!! There must have been 20+ boats and we couldn't even get to the shore. We had to crash into another boat and then climb on it to get to the shore!

It was now 6pm, the sun had gone in and it was starting to get pretty chilly. Now was the time 14 of us were supposed to go kayaking! The best part is they only had 1 kayak!

Now I really didn't care about going kayaking but I was prepared to argue the point so I was the most vocal in voicing my opinion and we managed to get him to let us go kayaking tomorrow if we wanted.

The Irish guys and ourselves had had enough of the French girls whinging and so hit the booze big time. It was ridiculously expensive so we bartered and bought the whole supply for a better price. We also bought a bottle of the foulest vodka I have ever tasted which we polished off over a pretty good seafood dinner.

Pretty much straight after dinner everyone but ourselves went to bed. But we had come on this trip to have a good time and so carried on drinking for hours. I kept on climbing to the top of the rigging for a good view, and wanted to jump in the sea but thought better of it. I even left a can at the top of the rigging as a souvenir. We carried on drinking until gone 2am before finally hitting the sack.
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