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Halong Bay

VIETNAM | Friday, 1 December 2006 | Views [1251] | Comments [1]

Halong Bay at dusk

Halong Bay at dusk

After our night on the town in 'New Century Club' it's not surprising that we woke up late for our trip to Halong Bay - Very late! In fact our wonderful tour agent, Tom, was banging on the door, 'Wake up! Wake up! Halong Bay! Halong Bay!' we had twenty minutes to get to the bus and we still hadn't packed! We just threw everything into our backpacks and ran downstairs where our moto taxis were waiting. It was our first go on the motorbikes and perhaps not the best time to experience it - a little hung over, in a rush with our huge backpacks! But it was still fun pushing through the busy crossroads and the drivers really knew what they were doing! Deena slept most of the way to Halong Bay so it was in fact quite a short bus journey for a change!

Halong Bay was swarming with tour groups at the dock and our group was herded through and onto the fateful boat where our adventure began quite smoothly. We floated out onto the bay and it looked really beautiful. We were served lunch and that helped our sore tummies. Before long we were anchoring at an island - surely we weren't at Cat Ba already? As that would mean the end of the trip and it was only about 2pm. Luckily, it was a stop to look at an 'ancient' cave. It was beautiful but unfortunately was made 'more beautiful' by the neon lighting, plastic penguin bins and man-made fountains! The tour guide had an affinity for pointing out rocks that looked like things, 'This one fróg', 'Here is dragon'and 'say goodbye to buddha' we all went 'aaaa', ok' but it basically just looked like a rock. He also told us of an ancient legend about two dragons having 100 children and going to heaven through a hole in the roof - however in the previous speech had told us it was only discovered in 1993. They make these 'legends' up very quickly.

In the afternoon, back on the boat, we were chatting with another couple who had booked with a different tour guide and they had been promised everything included plus a night on the boat (now they were being told to stay on Cat Ba Island)and were NOT happy. They started to complain to the tour guide and he got very angry indeed! 'Why you tell me everything included? I VERY angry' they argued back and forth for about half an hour during which the guide threatened to throw the English guy into the sea! Afterwards he seemed sorry though as he came back with his head down and offered them the room they wanted, sulking like a child.

About 4.30 we got to a particularly dirty area of water, next to a load of fishermen's houses. 'Ok, now you swim and kayak' it was almost dark and a little cold. Needless to say, no one took him up on the swimming but some people went out kayaking. We thoguht we'd leave it for another time and sat chatting and looking at the views. About an hour later rumours started spreading through the boat that someone in a kayak was missing, it was almost dark and everyone was worried. We found out that it was a nice American guy travelling alone and a Korean girl that were still out on the water. An hour later or so, they still hadn't been found and people were shouting their names from the boat into the darkness. It was pitch black and foreboding on the water and all the worst things went through our heads. Everyone grouped together, telling jokes and hoping they'd be found soon. The guides sent out a boat but without lights! (duh!) The landscape on Halong Bay is easy to get lost on with all the rocky crags that look exactly the same. All of a sudden the boat started moving and rumour spread that they had been found. We all breathed a sigh of relief and sure enough we picked them up from a fisherman's house, they were fine, luckily the American guy, Joe, had his mobile and the reciept fro the tour with him! They were very sorry, but we were just glad they'd been found. By this time it was about 8pm and we were all hungry.

We drove towards Cat Ba island but the Captain was getting mad at people standing in front of his deck and was shouting a lot. The crew wouldn't turn on the electricity but wouldn't tell us why and it was quite dangerous and teh decks were so dark, we could have fallen overboard, we couldn't do anything in the dark and everyone was getting very very angry and shouting and protesting. At one point the Captain came out and pushed an Israeli guy who pushed back. It was all a bit eerie and scary in the dark. At the island, everyone staying on land disembarked. We were staying on a different boat (luckily) and started driving back out to sea to meet the other one. They 'parked' bum-to-bum (not sure about the technical term for that one) and we had to jump accross but the waves were so choppy that they rarely were on the same level. It was very very scary and totally dangerous (it would never happen in UK with all the safety rules) also we had our big backpacks on so balancing was tough enough! We made it! It was so scary though that Deena was shaking for about an hour afterwards - she gets sea-sick enough as it is! Everyone on that boat had already gone to bed but they had some dinner left for us, all a bit burnt (probably the stuff they were going to throw away) but we wereso hungry we guzzled it down). We made with some Koreans who were doing the same thing as us. Gary made aprticular friends with SolBin as they chatted about English football. Soon we went to bed, our cabin was really nice but unfortunately right near the engine so it smelt of diesel and was really hot. We were so shattered we fell right asleep.

In the morning we could take the new boat in properly. It was a world apart from the boat of the day before - clean, spacious, professional and it had lifejackets! We just felt sorry for our friends still on the other boat (you make best buddies very easily when travelling). As we pulled in to the island to pcik people up we pulled up next to the other boat, we called across to ask about how the night went,aparently there had been no electric all night (so no fan, no flushing toilet, no lights etc). We felt lucky to be on our boat and had a really pleasant morning cruising in the bay, watching the landscape and talking with the Koreans. About half way back to shore we stopped at a fish farm, Deena stayed on board but Gary got out and had a look. Some people brought big fish and crabs for highly inflated prices. Unfortunately our betteries konked out and there were none to be brought out at sea, so there's no pics of a lot of the boat journey! Sorry!

Back on shore we had lunch and then got the bus back to Hanoi where we grabbed some food for the overnight bus to Hoi An and brought some batteries. We put them in the camera but it said 'lens error', we thought, 'oh no! we're gonna have to buy another camera' which would really mess up our budget. But luckily Gary gave it a hardknock and it fixed itself! Hooray! Another bus ride was ahead of us for the night,  but we didn't mind, we were pleased to be leaving Hanoi and the north. Most people love it but we didn't. We needed some r & r but it had been the busiest place yet. As the bus rolled away we started to relax.

Tags: Adventures



So glad that we went to the New Century club with you guys! I was definitely hurting the next day!

  Alena Dec 1, 2006 7:51 PM

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Deena Gary Charlie and Dax in the garden in Colchester, Essex

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