Beware the jellyfish!
Halong Bay Travel Blog› entry 22 of 39 › view all entries
So, we decided to book a tour of Halong bay through our hostel.
We had seen every tourist agency advertising tours of Halong bay but decided to go through our hostel as we got to speak to others that had been and had heard that it was good value for money. We decided on a 2 day 1 night trip, rather than the 3 day as we didnt think we were strong enough for rock climbing.
Some of the others decided the only way to handle the journey was to make a start on the alcohol so vodka and rice wine were cracked open and consumed.
We arrived at the dock around 11am, and immediately saw why we needed the hats. There were people EVERYWHERE. It seemed about half the western population in Hanoi had decided to take a trip to Halong bay. We boarded our junk, a nice little boat that used to transport wares abroad to be sold. We had to wait while the boat fueled up, the 'tanker' was actually a raft/boat thing that pulled up along side, a large hose was thrown up and fuel was pumped out of big blue barrels that were sitting on the deck, very high tech(!) The guys pumping the fuel were very interested in my tattoos, pointing at my arm and making comments I couldnt really understand.
We left the dock about 20 minutes later, cruising out slowly and spent several hours gliding through the water, passing huge limestone rocks jutting out of the sea towards the National park. The rocks were formed by tectonic plates shifting, where they came together they pushed the soft limestone sea bed up out of the water, where erosion has slowly formed them into shapes and sizes. The myth that many Vietnamese believe is that a dragon, sensing that the open expanse of water leading to Vietnamese land was vunerable to attack, swooped down, scattering his teeth and bones into the water, and the rocks formed in their place, thus forming a maze of coves that was impossible to navigate without a map.
We arrived around 2pm, anchoring near a cluster of coves. Everyone immediately got changed into swimming gear and started diving in. Lots (including me!) braved jumping off the top of the boat, while others stood on look out for jellyfish. A sting from the jellyfish is painful but not life threatening, still prevention is better than cure! Half the group then went kayaking, Rachel and I managed to haul ourselves into the same one and off we went. It started to rain quite heavily as we set off, we were a bit concerned about holding a metal oar if it started thunder and lightening but the rain stopped within a few minutes so we carried on. We kayaked through two tunnels, the roofs so low we had to duck at some points, listening to bats chittering.
After everyone had kayaked and spent some time swimming we left the cove to head for a cave. We pulled up along side the rock and all jumped out, eager to explore. The only problem being there was about 30 people and only 4 torches, all going to climb through a pitch black cave! There were a few scrapes and some bumping into the person in front, some were taking pictures just so the flash would highlight the section in front of them for a few seconds.
The next morning we got up early for breakfast, then spent a while swimming and sunbathing before a boat arrived to collect the people that were doing 3 days instead of 2 and took them off to do rock climbing. The rest of us settled down onto sun loungers to enjoy the peaceful journey back to the dock. We arrived at midday, had lunch in a restaurant opposite the dock then got onto a coach for the journey back. I decided to try and sleep so I wouldnt have to endure the sight of the coach swerving across lanes of traffic to avoid cows on the road !