Monday, 29 August 2011

Ha Long Bay

We decided to get out of crazy Hanoi, so we booked a two night cruise in Ha Long Bay.  We're always very reluctant to take a tour since they generally suck and we hate being carted around and being told what to do and when to do it.  But it does seem like the best way to see Ha Long bay is by boat, which does require booking a tour.  We were advised not to book the cheapest tours because there's a good chance there will be rats on the boat (or it'll sink, which happened a few months ago), or the most expensive tour (hah! not a problem) because we will not have a chance to meet fellow back-packers.  We booked a nice mid-range tour through the hotel, and it was quite lovely.

The boat itself was very nice, with an upper deck for relaxing on sun chairs, a middle deck with the dining room and some comfy couches, and a lower deck with the cabins.  The food on board was ridiculous!  There were so many dishes, and I got my own special plates since I don't eat meat.  Every meal consisted of at least 10 dishes, including lots of sea food (clams, prawns, squid, and several entire fish!), vegetables, rice and other types of meat.

Me on upper boat deck.  The scenery was awesome!

The first day, we paddled around a floating village in a two-person kayak.  I even let Greg captain the boat this time, and thank goodness he did not capsize us as the water around the village was quite dirty (we even saw a dead rat floating by....).  We explored a couple of 'lagoons', a bay of water totally surrounded by rocks, except for a small entrance.  

Entering a lagoon through a small hole in the rock.

Some homes in the floating village, sheltered by islands.

Floating village.  We saw cats and dogs living on these platforms, which was quite sad as they had very little room to run around.

Our second day, we cruised around the bay, stopping for some more kayaking and swimming.  There were only 5 of us staying for a 2 night stay (all others were just there for a 1 night trip), so it was an awesomely empty boat.  It was an incredibly relaxing day; there was nothing to do but nap and watch the scenery for most of the day.  We stopped at Monkey Island to enjoy the beautiful beach.  But we saw no monkeys since it was so ridiculously hot, they were all hiding out in the caves where it's cool. 

Greg trying to hide from the heat.  

Late afternoon swimming off the boat: exquisite!

Sunset from the boat, night 1

I tried my hand at squid fishing, which was strangely fascinating.  We had lots of squid circling our hooks, and a few bites, but they all got away... Except for the guy that spontaneously exploded off the hook.  He sprayed his ink, and then literally blew himself apart.  crazy!

Our last day, all herde30 of us on the boat were herded on a trip out to visit a cave.  This cave was very touristy: all the floors were paved and there were coloured lights all throughout, which completely ruined the fun of going in a cave!

Ridiculous cave

Our boat!  

Sunset, night 2

All in all, it was a great trip and we didn't mind being on a tour too much at all!  The bay is absolutely gorgeous, and it was a wonderful break from the craziness of Hanoi.  The day we returned to Hanoi, we immediately jumped on a train and headed north to Sapa, which I will write all about in the next blog!


  1. What. The. Hell? Why would a squid spontaneously explode? What kind of creature DOES that?

  2. Sounds like a weak link that needed to be extricated from the gene pool anyway...

  3. Sounds incredible! Have you seen that internet video about the football (soccer) team that started in a floating's pretty cool. I wonder if they are from around the same area...there are probably lots of floating villages.