Trip Start Mar 30, 2010
Trip End May 18, 2010

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, May 6, 2010

Three hours south of Hanoi in the gulf of Tonkin is one of the most beautiful and majestic bays you will ever come across in your life time, Halong Bay.

Halong Bay, referred to by the Vietnamese as "the place where the dragon descends into the sea", is a beautiful bay with thousands of Limestone kast peaks which form small islands that protrude from the water like ancient stone fingers from the depths of the sea.

It's not hard to see why Halong Bay is one of the natural wonders of the world. The water is emerald in colour and over the years the water and wind have eroded the limestone islands into thousands of grottos and caves.

Cruising around the bay in large junk boats is the only way to explore the bay. The junks cater for all walks of life so just pick your tour provider according to your budget and have your camera charged as there are over 2000 limestone islands in the bay. Our junk took us to the Hang Sung Sot cave, which translates to the Cave of Surprises, which has a number of chambers and a pink lit rock phallus called the cock rock. When the boat is anchored in a small alcove you can take the kayaks out to explore the small grottos or drink beer and suntan on the deck.

In the same way that the bay is referred to as being the place where the dragon descends into the sea, the Vietnamese, like the Chinese, have a major focus on a person’s year of birth. Those born under the year of the dragon are considered to be the luckiest and most fortunate. It is considered the ultimate animal of birth signs. Since it was my birthday on the junk boat and I was born in the year of the dragon the tour guide was extremely excited. He told me how lucky I am, threw me a party on the boat (which not surprisingly involved karaoke) and told me to have kids in two years so they can be little dragons.  He also learned that I cook for Liz and do some of the cleaning duties and promptly told me she is a bad wife and she is lucky to have a dragon as in Vietnam a man leaves work and goes to have beers with his friends, then he goes home and has dinner waiting for him, and if he vomits the wife will clean it up, with a smile.

Five nights and six days was a bit of a stretch to spend in Halong Bay. Don’t get me wrong, 2 days spent on a boat cruising around the bay is probably the best thing you can do in Vietnam bar none. But unfortunately Cat Ba Island is a bit of a let down compared to the rest of the bay, as the island just feels dirty and the food did not live up to its Vietnam city cousins. Next time I would only spend 2 nights cruising around the bay and skip Cat Ba Island.


Boat cruise around Halong Bay

Hang Sung Sot Cave

Kayaking through grottos

Liz dominating the Karaoke machine

Cycling to small villages on Cat Ba Island


Cat Ba Island


A tour package to Halong Bay from Hanoi for two nights, which includes meals and transportation ranges from $75 all the way to $500 for 2 nights, depending on the class of your boat. Our boat was in the 3 star range and we thought it was a bargain for $75 for the 2 nights.

Interesting fact:

 Snake wine is a delicacy for the Vietnamese males, as they believe if they drink the blood of the snake mixed with rice wine it gives the male power…lasting power that is… and the ability to make sweet sweet love 3-4 times a month.
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Bundy on

' if he vomits the wife will clean it up, with a smile.'

Hahahahahaha!....cant see that happening!

cheryl webb on

Always said that you were born under a lucky sign. I also share the same Dragon sign. Liz, wld spend a million to see you wait on Aidan when he gets back from drinking with the lads!!

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