Halong Bay, which literally translates as “descending dragon bay” was high up on my list of go to places in Vietnam, with it’s UNESCO world heritage sight status it wasn’t to be missed…
We booked onto a two day one night boat trip for around $50 including transfers, accommodation, meals, sight entry, and kayaking.
Obviously sounds like fantastic value for money but there’s no doubt that you get what you pay for.
The late transfer from our hotel took approximately three hours to arrive at the port in Halong Bay.
We were eventually ushered onto a boat with about twenty passengers in total. Our first meal, lunch, was okay but the portions were minuscule considering how many people there were to feed.
Setting sail we headed towards a cave to explore on foot. Some of the novelty was taken away by the fact that who ever was responsible for touristifying (new word) this cave did it with an irritating and unsympathetic Hollywood esque style in mind. with concrete paved walkways and stalagmites lit up in different colours, which made it feel more like a club. Still, it was cool and it was possible to see past this and how impressive the natural formations really are.
As we only booked onto the two days one night trip we went inside just one cave, other people I met who did longer trips got to go to less commercialised caves and sometimes kayaked through them.
Next we sailed to a floating fishing village to go kayaking (something I was really looking forward to doing), which was an extra $5. My dad told me if something sound too good to be true, it most probably is. This was one such case, we were allocated just twenty minutes of kayaking before we had to get back onto our boat and set sail to nowhere… I managed to negotiate a precious extra five minutes. This wasn’t good enough.
Soon after picking the least mouldy looking life jacket, I figured that once we’re out in the water, the most they can do is chase after us. They wouldn’t possibly sail off if we took longer than twenty five minutes.
My theory proved a success, after a leisurely fifty minutes paddling through arches and around small coves we wandered back onto our boat… With one pair of very wet shoes. We pulled up to a shallow area to get some photos and obviously the kayak drifted away.
Before dinner there was just enough time for a visit from the Co-Op on sea. Where I tried a fresh oyster. As well as climbing up the mast, as the sun set.
The consistently minimal portions reappeared at dinner, where we spent the evening with fellow passengers from America, Croatia, Canada and Germany.
The standard of my cabin with decent, the shower was working, but cold and the bed was pretty comfy. When it came to sleeping, everything was damp, which wasn’t particularly nice.
The next day we sailed back to the port and made the three hour or so journey back to Hanoi, ready to make our way south…
I also, appropriately, left my boat shoes on the boat. I hope the captain is getting as much use out of them as I did.