I’ve just returned from a three day trip to Ha Long Bay.
We took the bus from Hanoi and as soon as we arrived in Ha Long City we hopped on our boat and had lunch immediately. The boat made it’s way through, at first, other boats but as we got further away, we had more and more privacy. The Ha Long Bay area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and for good reason. The landscape is absolutely stunning: clear blue waters with harsh, jagged limestone islands poking up out of the water and covered in mangrove. I got extremely trigger happy (for those who know him – think about Tim at New Year’s Eve and multiply it by ten!) with the camera so those who know me will be counting the days til my photo slide show!!
The boat’s first stop was a HUGE cave, a distinctive feature of this ‘karst’ area. The cave was really massive and had only been discovered relatively recently – it had loads of wacky rock formations and was not like any other cave I’d seen before (bent over double with a hard hat and flash light).
Later in the day we went to a secluded beach, did some swimming and went for short kayaking trip where I found out that my kayaking skills aren’t so good!
By the time we had done all this, it was nearly time for dinner which we took on the boat once more. After dinner, a lot of us retired to the top deck of the boat and chatted under the stars. I met some really lovely people including a really friendly (and thankfully English speaking) Vietnamese girl from Saigon, a student from Chile and an Australian jazz musician who had once played at Glastonbury! The setting was beautiful as the boat had anchored in a sheltered bay; the water was so still and moonlight so bright and if anyone raised their voice it echoed off the cliffs. Throughout the evening we gassed on about all sorts of things and I especially enjoyed talking about our respective countries culture differences. Also, what I found quite funny was that the dude from Chile knew about the alleged reputation of Essex girls!! It was such a nice night, that we decided to sleep on the top deck so we brought our mattresses from downstairs. It was great to be able to look up at the stars and really take in the atmosphere – probably my most enjoyable night of the trip so far.
The next couple of days were a little bit of an anticlimax and were spent on another island in the Ha Long Bay area where I went for a short trek into the hills (damn near killed me!) and took another trip on the boat and had the opportunity to swim in the bay and jump in from the top of the boat! Pretty fun!
We then returned to Hanoi by bus and I got some food and headed to the train station for my next destination: Hue, an ancient royal city about half way down (ish) Vietnam. 12 hours later I’ll get there!