Another horrendously early morning, but worth it as we got up to meet for the 2 day Halong Bay tour.
A couple of hours on the mini bus and we arrived at the pier, chatted with the other tour members and, after a short wait, boarded our junk. The weather in HaNoi had been more than cool – proper jumper weather – and in HaLong it was no warmer, so as we headed out into the bay, we cowered inside the boat, trying to keep out of the cold air.
One thing about that tour is that we were definitely well fed.. Although the dishes came out in random order, with no indication of how many more there were to come, it was good, tasty stuff and plenty of it.
We stopped at the ‘surprising cave’ in the early afternoon. Many of the limestone islands have caves inside them and this particular one contained a little surprise.. I can only imagine that the word ‘surprising’ must have a slightly different meaning in Vietnam.. I would personally have chosen ‘badly named’ or just ‘tacky tourist trap’ as prefixes in this case. There was no surprise. Just a lot of rock formations that kinda looked a tiny bit like stuff. We finally got back on the boat and were lucky enough to catch a couple of ‘surprising’ clouds in the sky.. Maybe I’m just too cynical for these things..
Later on we stopped at a floating village to go kayaking – assuring me the water itself was was warm still didn’t tempt me into it, so I kept warm while everyone else went off exploring the surrounding islands in their kayaks. Just didn’t fancy getting any colder really.
Once everyone was back on board, we headed to where we were going to moor for the night and we had the chance to go for a swim.. Considering I’d missed out on the kayaking, I figured it was worth a go if only to be able to say I’d done it. We got to jump in off the boat’s top deck and although I fucking froze when I got out, the water was reasonably warm and we farted around for a few mins before racing to the cabin for a hot shower to stave off the hypothermia!
I really didn’t expect to be cold on any part of this trip – my fleece was packed into the bottom of my bag and although I intended for it to bloody stay there, it was used and appreciated several times..
The bay itself is amazing. Picturesque and impressive, mulling slowly around the tall islands was so peaceful and relaxing. The trip would’ve been ten times better had the weather been on side, but even so, it was well worth it and would be great to do again one day (in summer).
The second day was mainly about heading back to port. A quick stop at Cat Ba island to drop a couple of people off and another huge lunch broke up the journey, but the sun finally showed up and i had a good chill out up on the top deck for a bit, just watching the small fishing boats and islands go by, snapping a fee shots here and there.