halong bay - class upgrade

Cat Ba Travel Blog

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soooo.... time for my deluxe cruise and time to sample a bit of upmarket tourism industry in vietnam. surprise, surprise, it's a whole lot better than the backpacker service

for starters i went to the tamarind cafe where handspan is located and could drop my big bag and lock my laptop away safely. the sales people were nice as always and the friendly local guide made sure everyone was alright.

loads of couples in their 30. and 40. showed up with some old and some younger folks. better mix than i was afraid it would be.

in the end two groups got on the spacious & nice bus - us 5 from the 2 day tour and a bigger group for the 3 day tour. of course, whenever you pay a lot for some touristy thing, there is a typical touristy & grumpy swiss couple around, no different this time hehe

we drove 3.5 hours down to halong bay not without a stop at a souvenirshop coffee & toilet break standard treatment... but was not too bad, besides having every bloody bus going to halong that day stopping there it was actually a shop supporting local handicapped people so i can somehow accept it. better than just the usual china-imports sales-pitch when you just need a loo.

we boarded the dragon's pearl, our modified chinese junk, and had a welcome drink with everyone sitting in a big circle. there are about 37 people on the boat each day with a mix from 2 and 3 day tours and different days. everything seemed perfect including a very gay sounding service head honcho introducing everyone and wishing us a nice stay.

time to check my room... damn... not the small prison cell i expected: nice big bed, all the accessories one could possibly need and aircon. ah yeah and a gorgeous view outside of course. nice!

in the dining room we were seated by groups so i met the 4 other people doing the 2 day trip. it was nice for once not being the oldest person at a table like in the backpacker places :-)

first lunch, first glimpse of what to expect for the next 24 hours: a never ending supply of food... there were about 7 or even more plates delivered to our table and since i opted for no seafood and chicken i often got a plate for my own, not just veggie, but pork & beef in huge amounts... i could not move anymore after eating and relaxed in a deck-chair for the rest of the afternoon.

we went to a nice little beach for a bit of swimming before the sunset and a even more food heavy dinner. the overnight in halong bay itself is definitely a must-do! it's beautiful even though there are about 20 other boats hanging around :-)

flickr set: halong bay
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Cat Ba
photo by: ulysses