No trip to Hanoi would be complete without a trip to Halong Bay which has become one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations and was recently inducted into the new seven wonders of the world series. The bay features over two thousand limestone karsts dramatically jutting out of the emerald sea waters.
This part of the country gets a lot of cloud and rain and clear weather seems to not be so often but even in the overcast conditions the beauty of the area is undeniable…once you get past the bottleneck of coach tour groups at the main port.
First on the menu was the option of kayaking or a bamboo boat trip round the floating villages, caves and lagoons. Normally, I’d plump for the kayaking but as it was raining and I didn’t know where to go I thought it better to just be taken round the main sights and get some photos of the place which wouldn’t be so easy if I was busy kayaking.
Back on the boat later we had what was termed as a sunset party. Funny given that there was absolutely no sun to be seen but still we got given a glass of wine by tour guide Toan and then spent the next few hours mingling with the dozen-or-so other tourists onboard. Before dinner we had the chance to make Vietnamese spring rolls which I was fairly rubbish at but not the worst! My one in the picture below is on the far right side!
Dinner was very nice and filling and included the shrimp concoction above. There was a chance to do some squid fishing after that which of course I tried my hand at but naturally I got impatient and bored and left empty handed. After a very long day (having only returned on overnight train from Sapa in the early hours) it was to be a very early night. It didn’t really feel like we were even sleeping on a boat to be honest as there was no swaying among the waves. The photo below is the view from our window.
The rain was a lot heavier on the second day as we were taken first to a lookout view on Dao Titop which was followed by some very interesting caves going by the name of Hang Sung Sot which translates as Surprise Caves with the surprise being the phallic symbol below which has been christened cock rock.
Halong Bay is indeed spectacular scenery but I’m afraid to say that it almost bypassed me and I took it a bit for granted. As I’ve been writing this I’ve realised that in terms of activity there was actually very little over the two days but I guess thats not the point. It’s all about being at sea and cruising around an area in a style that is miles apart from our normal daily lives in the city.