Peace & Quiet
11.09.2006 31 °C
We checked out of Casa del Crappy and rushed our brekkie into us as the tour lady had come to collect us - way too early mind you! She collected a couple of other people and drove us to the slightly bigger bus that was to take us all the way to the bay.
After the end of the Vietnam war, and the advent of "Doi moi", Vietnam's policy of opening its economy to foreign trade, means that Westerners and South Vietnamese now have a chance to visit Ha long. Vinh Ha Long or Bay of the Descending Dragon is often touted by proud Vietnamese as the world's Eighth wonder. One of the main attractions of Ha long is the bay's calm water and the thousands of Limestone Mountains dotting the seascape. The Bay's water is clear during the spring and early summer. Some of the islands are quite large and there are small alcoves with sandy beaches where swimming is possible. Ha Long bay lies in the north-eastern part of Vietnam and is 165 Km from Hanoi.
It took us about 3 hours to get there with one stop off for some coffee. When we arrived we were put into a different goup than most of the people on the boat because we had booked the two-day tour, with one nights stay on the Island called Cat ba. So we were led into a restaurant by the water and told to sit on a table with 4 other people who were also on our tour. Our new tour friends were an English couple and two American guys - Scotty and Doug lol - very nice men from California. So after some friendly banter and nice lunch we set off to our boat.
The boat was nice, we got to sit up the top on plastic chairs so we could take in the view, and oh what a view it was. We tuk-tuked on the boat towards the limestone mountains for about 40minutes. Eventually we reached one big island where we disembarked and our guide brought us inside this huge cave area full of crazy stallactites and stallacmites and other crazy limestone features, lit up with coloured lights. The guide said some of them resembled animals or couples canoodling. Some of them did, but some of them just looked like melted blobs.
We were brought to a second huge cave and then back to the boat for the two hour journey to the Island we would stay the night on. This journey was soooo nice. So many islands, thousands of them scattered as far as the eye could see.. so beautiful. We docked at a lil port and drove to the main part of the island. Apparently we found out off the American guy (who has a Vietnamese wife and has done this trip a few times) we were meant to sail for longer and around the island to the main port, and not the port we docked at. Something to do with the weather meant we couldn’t make the journey all the way round, but we suspected it was due to the increasing gas costs.
The hotel we were to stay in was very nice, after being given two rooms that had yet to be cleaned (from the night before) they finally found us a clean one.
We relaxed in the room until it was dinner time. We all met in the hotel restaurant for some very tasty food and a beer. We were sitting with the Americans and a Japanese couple who were very funny. The Japanese guy seemed to eat quite a lot and the yanks kept making funny jokes about how hungry he was for a Japanese guy.
He had his eyes on the other tables' fish and the yanks grabbed it for him. They kept giving him more fish from the other tables that wasn’t eaten. Scottypops also made a funny joke about how for a Japanese guy, he sure has big eyes! Luckily we all laughed, there was nearly a Lolcano - sure it wasn’t in bad taste at all.
After dinner Doug and Scottypops suggested we go for a walk down to the port to try and get a lil night time tour on the water with some Vietnamese boat ladies. So after some bargaining we were off, Lisa and I in one boat and the yanks in the other. The ladies took us round by the fishing boats where Vietnamese guys shouted hello and offered us drinks. Then Doug decided he wanted to row his boat back himself, so we did the same. After mucho paddling round in circles and in the wrong direction, I finally got the hang of the rowing and got us back to the land… eventually.
We went for another beer with the two lads and it turned out the Scotty bloke was getting a bit drunk (3 SMALL DRINKS!) and getting a big louder (than normal) so we thought hmmm lets get back to the hotel. So we said night to the lads and off we went.
The next morning we all had breakfast together. Lisa and I went for our Vietnamese favourite - beef noodle soup. Then it was back on to the bus and to the port. We thought we were going on another cool trip but that was not the case…. Ffs. We were just being brought back to the bus again. What a crock! The boat we got on for the return journey was well nice, all wooden and fancy. There was a quick stop off at a fish farm to see some blue crabs, squid and various other fisheeseee. It was a beautiful day so many pictures were taken on the way back to the mainland.
Again we were back into the familiar restaurant for some lunch and a drink and then back on the bus for the return journey to Hanoi.