South East Asia- Halong Bay, Vietnam

Hello! TDH and I have spent the last two days aboard a junk boat on Halong bay! We booked the tour through our hotel and we were excited to meet some other travelers and spend a night getting to know them but for some reason our hotel thinks that we are made of money and they keep booking us for all the expensive and luxury and VIP tours without asking us! This was no different. They booked us on the luxury tour and we ended up on a boat all by ourselves! It's OK though, we made the most of it and made friends with our crew (all six of them!)

This is what a junk boat looks like. When we arrived at the wharf (about 170km from Hanoi, and a four hour drive) we were amazed to see how many boats there were at the pier!

This was our room. The rooms were actually very nice, although we didn't really spend much time in it!

As soon as we arrived on the boat they served us lunch. I can tell you what we paid for must have been the food because for two days that is pretty much all we did...EAT and EAT and EAT! The meals were pretty elaborate too!

Our first meal started with a glass of Vietnamese wine. It was a red wine but as you can see it is much lighter than traditional red wines. It was also served chilled and had a very fruity, berry flavor to it.
Our first meal started with Prawns, they mixed some spiced sea salt and fresh lime to dip it in and I found this to be a very good dip for many different things, even the dishes below.
Our next dish was steamed clams,
followed by crab.
We had no idea how to eat the crab so one of the crew members, Zung, cut it up for us.
Following this was fish and chips, bland alone but very good with spiced salt and lime or chili sauce. I used chili sauce of everything, the crew members found this very amusing.
Our main meal consisted of a squid stir-fry and stir fry cabbage over a bed of rice. I was stuffed after this meal. Dinner was even more elaborate, we had five courses, the last course consisting of four dishes!
The scenary was absolutely breathtaking, definitely a site I will not see anywhere else! The 2000 rocky islands that litter Halong bay were made many hundreds of thousands to millions of years ago by erupting volcanoes, although the Vietnamese have another story for how they were form. Many of the rock formations resemble animals and mythical creatures (dragons and such) so they have a story that many animals were brought down by heaven to protect Halong bay. They failed to go back to heaven at the specified time and therefore were stuck here on earth forever and were turned into stone. There were 2000 animals in total each represented by an island in Halong Bay.
Our First stop was to one of the caves nestled inside one of the islands. Our boat was too big to go to shore so we had to take a small motor boat. This is a few members of our crew driving us to shore.
we climbed many stares up to the cave. this is a veiw from the opening of the cave, it is the cove of the island.
The cave was massive. One of the largest in Halong bay. There are only two others as large as this one.

Above are more pictures of inside the cave.
After our tour of the cave we rode back to our Junk Boat and headed to another island that housed a small Pagoda at the top.
I enjoyed the sun on the deck while we traveled.
This is the Pagoda on top of the island.
We climbed to the top (to our guides amazement!)
and were amazed at the beauty that surrounded us.
These pictures do not even do it justice. It was absolutely amazing.

After our trip to the pagoda we returned to the boat and had our elaborate dinner. We convinced to the crew members to sit and have a few (too many) beers with us. We laughed, we cried, we tried to decipher their very broken English, and I learned how to say hello in almost every language! It was fun and beer turned into Vietnamese Sake ( I didn't even know this existed) which turned into "I love you Kachie" cocktails. They couldn't say my name so I was Kachie to them :). It was a fun night and eventually crawled downstairs to our room to pass out as we were to be awoken bright and way too early the next morning.
The next morning at the crack of dawn we were woken up for breakfast. It was very american with toast and eggs (although the eggs were fried, and I mean actually fried) and banana. Then we went on our last tour of the trip, to a secluded cove completely surrounded by rocky islands. To enter the cove you have to go under this very low cave.
But the cove was amazing and so very beautiful. We couldn't capture it with pictures but it was really quite breathtaking.
The water was so serene and calm.
Once back to the boat we made the slow tour back to the wharf to go home. On the way we saw many other islands both small and large. The picture above is of the "fighting cock"island. If you have noticed some of the pictures are very clear while others are not. The smog is quite bad still even way out here. We are close to China so it might be from them. I'm not sure but it surrounded us like a haze and made the visibility quite hard at times.
On our way home we also passed a floating village. About 100 people live in this village. It was really awesome to see how people can live in these self sustaining villages.

Once at the dock we loaded up once again in the van to ride home. Vietnam has been an experience and has a lot of culture but I am eager to get back to Thailand. Back to the sun and the "land of smiles."

Tomorrow we head to Southern Thailand. To the coastal city of Krabi! I can't wait!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing photos! Hope you are having a wonderful time; it certainly looks like it!