Halong are we waiting here?

Halong Bay Travel Blog

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Halong are we waiting here?

After conquering Mount Fancypants we have just enough time to sqeeuze in a well needed shower and a shitty massage before we head down to Lao Cai for the train to Ha Noi. While waiting for the train Anthony and I meet up again with fellow Rooftopper Leigh, who we met in Kunming. Ozzie Kath joins us as well, and in the train we have an enjoyable trashtalking session. Needless to say, Anthony wins it, again. No surprises there.

The night on the train is good, until it's five o'clock and time for the compartment speaker to announce that we're almost in Ha Noi. Not the nicest way to return from La La land! Our party of four manages to shake off all "Motobai? Motobai??"s and we walk to a waking up Old Quarter.

Halong Bay from my hut
Leigh, Anthony and me end up staying in the Camellia 3, where we can use some beds for some additional sleeping before our room is ready. How nice!

The three of us set out to explore Ha Noi and walk to the Ngoc Son temple in the Hoan Kiem lake, where the Lonely Planet walking tour starts. It costs 50.000 Dong (2E) to enter the temple, but the Lonely Planet isn't clear on whether the tour starts inside or outside the temple. Dilemma. We're thinking of calling Mr. Planet for help, but after a close examination of the map we settle for outside. Satisfied with our strict following of the Mr. Planet's masterwork, we can start the tour.

We don't make it too far though: Le Pub distracts us from out mission to finally for once follow the whole walking route, and instead of getting to know Ha Noi better we familiarize ourselves with Bia Ha Noi and La Rue beer.

Leigh, our tourguide and Anthony, arguing over who holds the ticket for the kayaking. Hilarious
The rest of the day we spend working on our haggling skills, which greatly improve.

The next day we're picked up from out hotel to do a tour of Halong Bay, Viet Nam's pride. In the minivan to Halong City we crack (and recycle) all our new Halong jokes. Guide: "Halong Bay is a four hour drive away" -"Halong?!" and "Halong are we waiting here?" are amongst our favorites. Once on the Halong Bay pier we find ourselves amongst thousands of other tourists from all corners over the world, buzzing around. Buses come and go, boats tie on to unload their human cargo, and take on supplies and a new round of passengers to see the karsts. It's a machine. We're given a generous hour to see the three boots on the pier that all sell the same stuff and to hit the bathroom.

Halong Bay
When we finally board our boat it takes another full hour before we actually leave dock and set out to cruise Halong Bay.

And now some totally free advice from Ape: cough up some dough in Halong Bay, you stinky penny pincher. Our tour is shite, our guide doesn't speak english other than "Now you eat!/Now you sleep!", the crew is indifferent to any of our needs, we're waiting for hours at a time without anyone telling us what for and we're not allowed to do anything but sit down. Are we in a position to complain? No. We took the rockbottom cheapie, figuring the scenery would be the same with every price. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that, as the condition you're in determines how you view your surroundings.

Especially the seemingless pointless waiting gets on the groups nerves.

We all vow never to take the cheapest tour again, Leigh has visions of blowing up Halong Bay Rambo style, and on the first night our tour guide bursts out in tears, which softens everones temper again. Highly tactical! It must be #1 in the book of Womens Tactical Maneuvers. Now that would make an interesting read. After two (half) days we get back in Halong City. We're supposed to eat lunch, but our guide disappears for a full hour, leaving us with an empty table, wondering where she went. Not that it surprised anyone..

Always look at the bright side of Halong Bay, but they do make it difficult for you. The place is struggling under all the tourists, but the Vietnamese are still only seeing the short term dollars. I hope they'll realize in time that a lot needs to be done if they want to keep Halong Bay alive. My personal experience was shitty in Halong Bay, and I wouldn't ever do a boat tour again. The only way I would do it is by private (speed)boat, but I'm not sure if that's even possible.

Ape says:
Not really. I'd go there again if I could do it on my own, hire a boat for myself or something like that. Never ever again with a tour.
Posted on: Jan 28, 2009
jegs76 says:
LOL, so it was more like shitty place? not recomanded at all?
Posted on: Jan 28, 2009
JeAr says:
oh yeah, i feel the same. i wish Yangshuo is in Vietnam! :D
Posted on: Jun 03, 2008
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