Halong Bay - the Descending DragonOctober 24, 2016 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C
After an early morning start, we jumped on a bus with our cruise provider who would drive us the 4 hours to Halong Bay. The bus winded its way through rice crops and small Vietnamese villages and stopped at a Arts centre for disabled people who have been affected by the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnamese war. According to the people that work there, the centre employs over 300 disabled people with about 60% of the profits going directly to them. Pretty cool, if true.
We arrived in Halong Bay around 11.30am and awaited the boarding of our ship in a room likened to a Greenhouse. We met two lovely English girls - Liz and Beth, who had been travelling through Myanmar and now Vietnam. We struck up an instant friendship and proceeded to spend the rest of the day with them discussing everything from health psychology to politics and our train trip through Russia.
Once on board the boat, it was time to get fed and we sat down ready for our very gluttonous 6 course meal. My vegetarian option was fantastic, but massive and couldnt even attempt to eat it all. After lunch we got put onto a small boat and went kayaking through the islands and caves where we got to see Monkeys and some absolutely beautiful scenary. I was super excited as this was the first time I have ever seen Monkeys in the wild even though the number of tourists visiting them and feeding them means they arent really "wild" anymore. I was also so excited to be doing some sembalence of exercise, that I broke out my inner olympic kayaker and tried to take off across lake. Being a 2 person kayak, Jamie acted as my handbrake and told me to calm down and enjoy the scenary. We admired the beautiful Karst rock formations and sealife in the form of crabs and slowly made our way back to the boat.
Once back on board the boat, we were taken to a small island where we hiked to the top to catch some pretty impressive panoramic views of the bay with hordes of other tourists of the 100's of boats dotted throughout the bay. We made our way back down and went for a swim in a small bay made even smaller by the buoys which constrained the swimming area. I managed to get in a couple of strokes of butterfly and then just proceeded to float around like the lazy tourist I am slowly becoming.
It was time for happy hour - the most important hour of the day, so we jumped back on board and headed straight for the bar where all the cocktails were buy 1 get one free. I decided to make the most of this special offer and drank about 6 cocktails in the space of two hours (I had to try ever frozen dacqiri on offer - geez dont judge me 😉) and spoke more to Liz and Beth about their travels through Vietnam so far. We now have some fabulous tips for Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh. Before we knew it was time for dinner which was another massive 6 course meal. The lights went out, the music started and our spring rolls were brought in on laterns in the pitch black. Food is treated like royalty here (as it should be) and I love it!
After dinner, we headed back up to the "Playground" being the top floor of the boat (aka party central) and ordered some soft drinks snd pineapple juice while Jamie headed back to the room to grab the illegal Midori. We watched the bay lit up like a christmas tree from the lights from all the other cruise ships while discussing Trump, War, Syria and Brexit. I can certainly tell I am getting older and more wise by the content of my drinking conversations. Teenage Courtney = boys, tv shows, swimming, gossip. Mature Courtney = war, terrorism, the state of our economy, the state of our world, job satisifaction (or lack thereof) and gossip. When did life get so dark?
Being the Party Animals of the boat, Liz, Beth, Jamie and I stayed up until Midnight while the rest of our boat was fast asleep. We decided to call it a night because we had Tai Chi to do in the morning.Read more