Halong Bay

Cruising the high seas

June 26, 2005

After hearing rave reviews of a boat tour to Halong Bay we decided to book a 3 day/2 night tour. We left Hanoi around 8:00 am and while we were picking up the others we saw our buddies Dan and Paul from our Sapa train ride getting into the van. We couldn't believe our eyes and were happy to see them again. There were 11 in our group which fit just perfectly into the van. After a 3 hour ride we got into Halong City and waited to board our junk boat(yes, that's their real name).

The docking process isn't very smooth as each boat pretty much just bumps into each other and so we had to cross over about two other boats to reach ours which was quite funny to watch us all trying to manuever in the small walkways w/ our big backpacks on. Once aboard we ditched our bags and sat down to eat lunch. Immediately we were all a bit concerned because we paid more to have a small group and yet we found the boat had about 40 or so people on it so we all wondered if we'd be sleeping on the benches used for dining. While eating lunch we made our way to the Amazing Cave. Essentially the Amazing Cave is three caves which had some great lighting effects which almost made it seem like a theme park.

Back on board a group of us headed to the upper deck to chat and get some fresh air. The scenery was beautiful and it helped to be upstairs once the water got choppy. We made our way to Cat Ba Island and dropped off the other travelers who as it turns out were hitching a ride to spend the night there. Our boat continued on into an inlet and parked for the night. After finding our rooms and a quick dip in the questionable water we sat down for dinner and drinks.

Drinks continued on the upper deck where we all gazed at the stars and got to know one another better. Our group consisted of us, Alex from Florida, Paul and Nadine from England, David from Ireland, Angeline and Tahn from New Zealand, Danny from Sweden and Selena and Cory from Canada. The night continued all good and well until Danny and Paul brought out the vodka and it was nighty-night for Tina. While I was in attendance I was told that I was good entertainment (anytime guys).

The next day consisted of the group going on a hike in the morning and then in the afternoon some of us went kayaking while others enjoyed the beach or took extended "naps" like myself.

We all gathered together for dinner and then on to the Koala bar where everyone enjoyed some funs games.

The last day we woke up early for breakfast and then headed back onto another boat to make our way back to Halong City. It was unbelievably steamy that day so we all tried our best to stay cool and swap emails with one another. Once in Halong City we grabbed lunch and made our way back to Hanoi. The ride back was again a blast due to the group being so much fun and I was sad to see our time coming to an end. Craig and I got dropped off first and before we knew what was happening everyone drove away and we felt bummed that we probably wouldn't see our new friends again.

We tried to find a train ticket to Hoi An that night but unfortunately the train was full. We went back to our same guesthouse and called it an early night.

Thanks to our Halong Bay group again for making the trip so memorable!!

Thanks to Tahn(sp?) for the great quote regarding Vietnam:

"You get up early, you wait long time." Well said and a gut buster in the face of frustration!!!

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