|Alrighty folks, How's everyone doing? I am great, recovering from our 3-day tour of HaLong Bay, the famous islands off the NorthEast coast of VietNam.
We booked the tour through our hotel, so we didn't have to worry about organizing everything. We just bought the ticket and were wisked away to the Bay to board our boat.
The style of boat are famous in the bay, they're called "Junk Boats," a funny name for boats that are so beautiful. Anyhow, the dock was just as crazy as the city traffic here in SE Asia. They cram an insane amount of boats together and appears to be no solid way that things were organized, at least I couldn't see it. It made me glad that we didnt have to figure it out for ourselves.
So the first day was great we boarded our junk and sat down for lunch, the food was not so amazing, but at least the scenery made up for it. The bay was absolutly gorgeous. Shauna and I agreed that it was one of the best "Natural" land marks that we had ever seen. Nearly 3,000 limestone islands jetting out of the emerald green water, as far as the eye could see.
After lunch we arrived at our first destination, an enormous cave in the middle of one of the 3,000 Islands in the bay. It was another great surprise when we walked up the stairs to the entrance. The caves were massive and they were absolutly amazing. There were 3 huge caverns connected through small passageways. Apparently, The Vietnamese army used the caves to hide out during the French war.
Our guide was great he kept pointing out places in the caves that resembled objects, like elephants, tigers, turtles, all kinds of things. Only one object turned out in the pictures and I'm not gonna say what that resembles you will have to make that call on your own....
So after the caves, we boated around for a while and then pulled in to a little cove for a swim. It was great to get in the water finally. Another point worth mentioning was the "Mobile 7-11's," they were small row boats stocked to the gills with every item imaginable--fruit, cookies, beer, smokes, liquor, you name it they had it. They would follow you around while you swim saying "You buy something?" it was great.
After our swim the boat dropped off some passengers at Cat Ba Island and we sailed off to sleep for the night. After a few hours a huge storm blew in and the captain had to find a cove for us to shelter for the night.
We had dinner and started chatting it up with the other passengers. After dinner we began drinking bottle upon bottle of cheap Vodka. Four bottles later and many beers, we were all having a great party. There was Shauna and I , Two medical students from America, A young couple from Canada, Two guys from Belgium "Kris with hair, Kris No hair" and a Vietnamese lady all drinking together.
At one point one of the Americans was betting Kris with hair to swim to the shore for 200 dollars. Remember, hard core travelers not wanting to go home will do anything for money no matter how stupid it is. Kris with hair kept saying, "That will pay for weeks of travel here!!!" Luckily, they settled on 20 dollars to just jump in the water as it was pitch black outside and you could not even see the islands, which had to be at least a kilometer away. He was completly intoxicated and did not remember half the night. The next morning we had to tell him all about it. He didn't even remember trying to go into one of the girls's room to propose to her after another bet was made. Phong our guide had to stop him, it was hilarious. "No, Kris with hair, she be sleeping now, no getting married with she tonight..."
At 7am, Phong began pounding on our door because we had to get off the boat to go to Cat Ba Island. Everyone who stayed up late, had some trouble getting out of bed.
Nick : "Ahghhhhh I think I'm still drunk!"
Shauna : "Arggghhh this is why I don't drink, Nick can you pack my bag, I think that I am going to throw up with this boat rocking like this!"
Nick : "I'm never drinking again!!!" haha
Phong : "Get awake Neek n Sauna, we go climb big big montain now. It be big big fun fun!"
Shauna : "Did he just say we go climb big big mountain?????"
Nick : "Where did it say in the tour that we climb big big mountain???? This is gonna suck!"
We got off the boat and took a bus into town to drop off our bags at the hotel. After this we had a short drive to go trekking. We were told that we were going to climb a mountain!!!! Sounds like a great idea after partying all night, Right??? I could not keep up with the group and fell way behind. I was still drunk from the night before and sweating profusley while climbing up rocks. After what seemed like hours, I made it to the top for a rest with the others. I sweated out the alcohol and felt better by the time we made our decent down the mountain.
We went back to the hotel for a short break and then we met back out on a boat to do some Kayaking. One the way out to where we were kayaking, we saw a junk boat that had sunk the night before when the storm had come through. All you could see were the masts poking out of the water. We heard that at least 1 person had died , it was quite scary because we were just around the corner from there.
Anyhow, The Canadian couple, the Kris's, Shauna and I made our own journey around in our Kayaks. It was great, just when I was asking where are those "7-11's" when you need them, one pulled around the corner and sold us some goods. Beer and Cookies... Great timing on her part.
We rowed back to the boat that was tied up to a fish farm and watched the fish swimming around. It was this elaborate cage system with huge fish that none of us could identify. They were crazy fish, Shauna and the Kris's would put a stick in the water and they would all jump out of the water trying to get it. Shauna nearly flew backwards in the tank behind her the first time one jump at her.
That night we stayed in the hotel on Cat Ba. England was playing in the World Cup that night, so a bunch of us went to the bar to watch it. The game was bit boring so Kris with No Hair and I ended up playing a game of chess for the second half--I lost horribly but it was fun.
The next morning the tour was over we all exchanged emails and headed back into Hanoi . It was a great trip and I think that best thing about it was the new friends we made.
Oh yea, Aunt Marcie and Uncle Denny, we kind of invited the Belgium boys to come visit us on the tug when were in Mexico. We told them about you guys and they kept saying "We love Uncle Denny and Aunt Marcia!!!" And Dad, "when you are in the South Pacific on your sailboat one day, 2 Belguim Boys may happen to show up.... :) Dont worry they are big big fun!
So that is all for HaLong bay. I'm sure there was more but that vodka had an affect on my memory. Don't worry I'm back on the wagon...Hopefully I won't fall off it again and crash it into a rice paddy.