Junk in the bay
Ha Long Bay Travel Blog› entry 14 of 19 › view all entries
In the morning I got up, had the hotel's breakfast of eggs and bread, and was picked up by a man from the tour company. He walked myself and Polish guy named Maciej to where the bus would pick us up. It finally showed up and we hopped on a very crowded and hot bus for a three hour drive to Halong Bay.
When we arrived we were split up into all kids of groups. There were people doing 1, 2, and 3 day tours so we were all sent different places. I was a bit confused, because I had signed up for a 2 day tour, yet was only with people on a 3 day. The part I was most worried about was that I couldn't seem to find my receipt for the tour anywhere.
We walked down the pier to a beautiful junk boat. It was three stories. The bottom were the rooms, the middle was the enclosed dining area, and the top had chairs and reclining wooden beds to relax on. We were told to sit down for lunch and I sat with an English couple- David and Frankie, and a German couple who teach at a deaf school. They seemed to overwhelm us with food of very good quality- fish, shrimp (with heads and all), potatoes, vegetables, etc. However we had to pay for all drinks, including water.
At this point, the guide pulled me aside. He explained that the boat I was supposed to be on was full and that I had been put on a luxury boat instead.
As we ate, the boat took off into the bay. The views are indescribable. There are these large peaks that come straight out of the water and it looks like the lush green vegetation grows right out of the rock. It reminds me a lot of Jurassic Park actually.
Our first stop was Surprise Cave. There's an older Vietnamese couple on our boat who currently live in Seattle. The wife is dying of some heart condition, so they came here so she can see her home one last time before she dies.
The cave was incredibly cool. They lit it up with different colored lights which created this very surreal looking underground world. It looked a lot like Journey to the Center of the Earth. They kept trying to say certain stalactites looked like this or that, but really they were stretching it a bit. Though one rock in particular which was lit up red clearly looked like a male organ. But the guide tried to say it was a hand which just made everyone laugh. On the way back down, the tour guide carried the woman on her back which was very nice of him.
We then went kayaking for an hour in the bay. They were two-person kayaks, so I got paired with the Vietnamese man. He'd never kayaked before and clearly didn't know how. So I basically paddled for both of us. When we first started we had to dodge the big junk boats that kept heading right for us, but eventually we got to a more secluded area and even paddled up to a cave.
Next they dropped us off at a sandy beach. While we were swimming with myself, the English, and a French couple we spotted a huge jellyfish in the water. We're pretty sure I had actually kicked it, because just before that I had felt something under my foot that I thought was seaweed- except there was no seaweed at all in that area.
My room was very nice. I had a nice hot shower and great air conditioning. I certainly wasn't expecting anything so nice in Vietnam, much less on a boat! After getting dressed, I went up to the top and chatted with the English, German, and French until dinner. the English girl spoke some French and the English guy spoke some German, so we had some very unusual trilingual conversations on top. We did get to watch the sunset from there which was breathtaking.
Dinner was again huge with octopus and fish and most of the same things as before. Our guide had wanted us to have a "party" that night, but we were all so exhausted we went to bed at 8:30.