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Vietnam - Halong Bay

semi-overcast 35 °C

The group for Halong Bay is small, we are only 7 - one couple from London, Tash and Sean, one couple from Australia moving to London, Karen and Rhino and two French guys that will also come trecking with me, Julian and Simon. They all seem lovely. We drove to the harbour where we got on our boat which is fabulous. A typical Vietnamese wooden boat. All cabins are fab, all in wood and really cute. I even have my own bathroom completely tiled in white. I can't even remember whenI have seen that last time. The lounge of the boat where we have our meals is very stylish and comfy too. This is travelling in pure luxury. I couldn't believe my eyes when they served our lunch. Seafood and all sorts of delicious dishes. The food was amazing and the decoration incredible. Heart decorations, flower etc. we even had a small bouquet of flowers made of food, i.e. a rose made out of a carrot. This is the best and poshest trip I have been on all for $148! Happy days... I am in heaven and so excited. The group is really nice and we all get on well. The first few hours we were shipping through Halong Bay, which is amazing. 3000 limestone rock islands and we are navigating through them. The islands are everywhere. There are so many that when you look to the horizon thre is hardly a gap anywhere they actually look like mountain ranges in several layers rather than separate islands. It is an incrdible sight. The islands have again something quite mystic. In between the islands are little so called floating villages which are basically an accumulation of little house boats. It literally is a small village floating on the sea. Stunning! We went to a cave in the afternoon - Amazing Cave - which was great. 3 different rooms in there all full with limestone columns etc. One of them looked like a penis! Ha Apparently it symbolises fertility! You don't say....! All the caves were illuminated really nicely. After that we went for a swim off the boat which was so nice after all that heat in Hanoi. The sea is almost too warm but hey ho, can't complain...;-)
We had a delicious dinner again, best food I had in a long time and so healthy too, it's great! I really like the Vietnames food so far. It's cheap, around Euro 2/3 for a a nice meal in a nice restaurant with a drink. The herbs and spices they use are brilliant. Looking forward to my cooking course already.
Thanks to Vietnam being a French colony in the old days, they have not only kept the architecture but also some of the food, so you can find baguettes everywhere. Heavan! I couldn't believe my luck when they served me a baguette and real butter (no yak butter) and cheese for breakfast. Only the laughing cow cheese but I was in heaven.
We had a few drinks and finished at around 1am. A really nice evening with a stunning and so romantic sunset and scenary. It was just incredible. Sometimes I can't believe my luck to see all these places and make all these incredible experiences. What a lucky girl I am ....:-) All the years of saving have been paid off more than I could have wished for.
The next day was kayaking day which was great. I can only repeat that I just love kayaking. I was going with Ngoc, the guide and despite of having my little Vietnamese hat as sun protection it was boiling hot but still fantastic. The scenary of Halong Bay is just made for kayaking. The sea is really calm. Before we got back for lunch we went to a lagoon kayaking through a whole in a the rocks which was great. I the lagoon we met another group and the while we were all kayaking aournd enjoying the fantastic scenary. a water snake jumped on the kayak of the the other guide. It was yellow and black and turned out to be more poisenous than a cobra.... nice!
We also passed some of those floating villages. They are incredible. They are tiny little houses, they use generators for their electricity and have water delivered by a boat on demand. Not a lot of action seems to be going on there. They seem to either lie in their hammocks or be out fishing or look after the fish they breed. They have nets under their houses where they breed reef sharks. Hmm.... maybe swimming there is not a good idea. I wonder how often they check the nets for wholes...
They even have dogs living on those house boats. Not sure how they get any exercise or where they do their business.... maybe they are just for the next dinner... who knows....
After some swimming, I swam to a nice little island and after some lunch and resting we went for some more kayaking. It was beautiful but not really that exhausting, which was good.
We were then brought to Cat Ba Island. The hotel was nice, brand new, but no atmosphere but I was happy about the A/C. The "town" was almost as bad as an English sea side town. Not so good! I had my first big green coconut, which was also not great. Quite tasteless, not sweet, warm and didn't really taste of coconut. It looked impressive though! It was a quiet evening , we had dinner in the hotel, had a drink at the promenade and I then had a walk around and went back to the hotel after I reallised there wasn't much to see. Everyone was quite tired and looking forward to a cool room. It's so hot and humid here...
Our guide didn't show up all evening which was quite okay with me, as I hardly understand a word he is saying. I am not talking about a bad accent here, his pronounciation is so far off the reality that in most cases it is impossible for me to figure out what he is on about. I am also getting quite fed up with his so called "Vietnames science". He constantly tries to enlighten us with his bizarre facts. The latest one was that after being in a sauna you can't jump into cold water or have a cold shower as you most likey will die and no doctore on earth will be able to help you. I couldn't help pointing out that all of Europ is doing it, but never mind....
Our last day Halong was spent swimming, shipping around and having lunch before going back to the harbour and taking the bus back to Hanoi. I did a nice fall though. The wooden floors on the boat was nice and slippy and after the swimming it was even more slippy and fell down the whole stairs from the upper deck to the lower one. I am now completely brused and look as if I have been abused. Rhino feel the day earlier and another guy that swapped boats with us too. He even had his eyebrow stitched. Stupid stairs.... I did complain though and told them they need to get that sorted....
Back in Hanoi we all had a drind before I spend some time on the Internet to find out that the Nepali shipment company has now charged me for the 7th time! Great! Tried to sort it out but no luck, so will need to wait until I am back from Sapa. We all had dinner together in 69 which was great and Simon and Julian and I went on the night train in the evening for our trecking trip in Sapa.

Posted by Julia1976 07:49 Archived in Vietnam

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