Halong Bay Travel Blog› entry 19 of 42 › view all entries
We wanted to spend a couple of days away from the city, as we have had quite a busy few weeks, so went with our hostel on a trip to Halong Bay, east of Hanoi.
It started with a coach journey, and to be honest, it nearly ended right there. We unfortunately ended up on the back seats so felt every bump and bounce, plus had the somewhat dubious benefits of an elevated position.
There were about 30 of us on the trip, and we had been given stupid hats to wear in order to identify us from any other group.
The weather was not that great, but as soon as we moved into the bay area the views surrounding us were stunning. Halong Bay is a UNESCO heritage site, and the photos we have taken (once again) do not do it justice. The water was completely still, we could have been on land, and the silence was almost overwhelming.
After a quick swim, we got into kayaks and paddled through the rock formations into smaller and smaller coves. Legend has it that the rocks are the scales on the back of a giant dragon who came up from the water in order to create an almost inpenetrable maze to protect the mainland from invaders. As we reached what we thought was the end, our guide disappeared into the rock, and we followed, through a cave-like tunnel with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and the sound of bats! On the other side was another beautiful little cove.
After the kayaking and a bit more swimming, we sailed onwards to a small cave, where we were given 4 torches (between 30 of us). Our guide vanished as soon as we entered, and unless you were next to someone with a torch you had to take photos with flash to work out where you were. Not fun. Somehow we managed to get part way inside, and some of the boys decided to try and climb up some larger rocks to get to a bit at the top. If we had more torches I'm sure it would have been better, but as it was, it was just stupid and dangerous.
We got back in time for a seafood dinner, where I was laughed at for exclaiming 'surprise' when I was faced with a huge prawn with eyes and feelers. Lisa wasn't too impressed when I squeezed the head and prawn gunk flew out at her, but I though I did a reasonable job! After a vodka based award ceremony celebrating the achievements of various individuals throughout the day (most suicidal bellyflop, sinking an unsinkable kayak etc etc), the fun and frolics began in earnest, culminating in naked diving off the boat. Unfortunately for some, their 'overexuberance' resulted in some painful jellyfish stings, as you couldn't see them coming in the dark! Needless to say, we were spectators rather than participants!!
The next morning we had to get up early for breakfast before sailing slowly back to the harbour.