Ha Long Bay in the rain

Trip Start Nov 30, 2009
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  , Quảng Ninh,
Sunday, May 9, 2010

  A very inauspicious start to our day trip when we woke up to find last night's storm had turned into torrential rain.  Not great weather to be out on a boat sightseeing.  Looked  a lot like Stalybridge on a February morning, except it was still warm enough to wear shorts.  Not wanting to miss out on the money of course the tour company were happy for the trip to go ahead and so we were loaded on board our wooden boat with 4 other tourists.  2 Canadian women and a French Canadian couple.  The rain continued for most of the morning, forcing us to sit inside rather than on the viewing deck up top.  We moored up along the way to pick up some seafood from a small floating fish farm.  These farms are dotted throughout Halong bay and families spend much of their time just sitting in their small wooden huts waiting for passing boats to stop and buy their fish.  Many of these floating pontoons have their own resident dogs, which look amazingly healthy and strong considering that they don’t get to run around on dry land.  We could only presume they get their exercise by swimming in the sea, as running along the narrow gang planks between fish pens can’t give them much of a work out. We got to hop off and take a look at the fish in the pens, which was pretty cool, if a little precarious balancing on little narrow gang planks running between the pens.  Some of the fish were absolutely enormous, would have hated to have fallen in with some of them, might have lost a limb!

We moored up mid-morning and our skipper informed us that we could get off and kayak if the rain eased off.  There were lots of caves in the surrounding us and it would have been great to have been able to explore them by kayak, but as the lightening started and the rain got even heavier we opted for an early lunch instead!  Sitting in water holding metal paddles isn’t the best idea in a lightning storm.  The boats crew seemed to have come prepared for the bad weather with a secret stash of some sort of strong spirit, which they proceeded to neck while we were moored up.   Must have been pretty potent as the skipper needed a lay down after lunch and handed over boat driving duties to the chef.  Slightly unnerving moment half an hour later when the skipper opened his eyes, leapt up and ran to the wheel house to take the wheel as we narrowly missed a huge rock! 

Finally by early afternoon the clouds broke for long enough for us to get some good views of the bay and to get into the kayaks for a bit of a paddle.  For those of you who witnessed the pair of us in a canoe in Hay on Wye last year you will be relieved to hear that we are much better suited to kayaking!  We actually managed to go in a straight line and even navigated our way under a small archway in the rock to reach a beautiful enclosed lagoon.  Final stop on the trip was a short stop on Monkey Island, to see of course – monkeys.   Our skipper hadn’t actually sold the idea of stopping at the island to us as he kept mentioning that they weren’t very friendly and miming them biting! 

All in all not a bad days trip despite the rain. It was made all the more bearable by the fact that we had a nice bunch of fellow passengers.  Sadly didn’t manage to get as many good photos as I would have liked, much too overcast and grey.  Very much like Manchester really!  

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