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Love, Trust, and a little bit of Wanderlust If we don't try we will never know, in the end we only regret the chances we didn't take.

Ha Long Bay - Day 1

VIETNAM | Friday, 21 April 2017 | Views [580]

We were picked up buy a mini bus at 8am from our guest house. We spent the next 30 minutes navigating the crazy streets to collect all the other people for the journey.
The bus was cramped with tiny seats and no leg space, and once everyone was on, it was 4 hours to Ha Long! Probably the most uncomfortable trip so far. We arrived at the marina and headed for a long speed boat. We were on the boat about a minute, pointless really considering we could of driven to the path at the main boat.
We got of our speed boat onto one known as a 'junk' boat. A traditional style sailing boat that would be our home for the next 24 hours. There was so many other boats like ours, this trip is obviously very popular and many different tour operators provide it.
We were given a welcome brief about the itinerary for the next few days. We were given keys to a room and given time to check in and relax before going for lunch.
We had began sailing when we headed for lunch and the food was unbelievable. We sat as tables of 6, the food came on plates in the centre and we helped ourselves. We were served huge portions of tempura fish, chicken, squid, some type of curry, steamed vegetables, salad and dressing and rice.
The views we had of the islands and rock formations in the water can not be explained, it was so impressive. We got to watch all this as we ate and had a window in the cabin too. With 1969 'islands' in the bay, it was truly breathtaking.
After lunch we stopped at a place called the 'Surprising Cave', apparently one of the most beautiful caves discovered in the islands. When we got there it was very busy. It appeared a lot of the boats had come here at the same time. The cave was beautiful but it was overcrowded and difficult to navigate without having to stop behind other groups of people. The cave had been adapted to allow tourists to enter. There were stairs and walls in place and some of the 'natural' rock formations, appeared to have been manufactured to look like animals or other objects. It was a beautiful place to visit but I had been more impressed with the scenery on the boat as we had sailed there.
After the cave we were given the option to go kayaking. We had been looking forward to this. And although a few boats where here at the same time, once we were out in the water it was peaceful and less crowded. We paddled around a little near the boat then headed of to see what we could find. We spotted a natural arch way underneath one huge rock formation and headed towards it. As we went underneath it went quite dark but it wasn't far to the other side. When we emerged on the other side we were completely surrounded by the rock, it was just a hollow of water in the centre. As we paddled in and had a look around we spotted a tiny monkey climbing in the branches and foliage on the rock walls... as we looked closer we realised there were more, about 10 monkeys, maybe more, chasing each other and playing on the rocks. They were amazing to watch, shooting from rock to rock, branch to branch, swinging and almost flying through the air. It was incredible to see. We spent some time paddling and then headed back to the start point. We got back on our boat and were told that 'sunset' drinks would be served at 6 followed by evening meal.

After a quick shower we headed back to the dining room. We all received a glass of local fruit punch, similar to sangria, then we sat for evening meal. Again, the food was overwhelming. We got chicken wings, pork wrapped shredded vegetables, prawns, a full white fish (with head, tail and fins still intact), spring rolls, chips, steamed vegetables, another curry type dish and rice. It was all delicious. I even ate the prawns and before this trip you wouldn't of got one near me!!

After evening meal we had the option of trying squid fishing, with bamboo rods and little hooks. The tour guide said whoever was first to catch one received a free beer. Everyone gave it a go but quickly gave up when nothing surfaced. The husband had been excited about this so we stayed with 2 others and the four of us sat and chatted on the back of the boat for about an hour, maybe 2. Suddenly we spotted a squid in the water... we had started to believe there weren't any! We kept our eyes pealed a little longer and I almost caught one with it nipping at my hook, I just didn't pull at it fast enough. About 10 minutes later one latched on to our friends hook! She launched it out of the water, practically threw the rod at her boyfriend and ran away! 😂 the squid was wriggling and squirting ink everywhere, we couldn't get it off to release it! We managed to get the tour guide down and it took him seconds to release it off the hook, drama over. And we all sat back on the back of the boat with a victory beer!
We decided to head off to bed but the party was still going with the crew of the boat enjoying a karaoke session in the bar, causing someone's ears to bleed somewhere...!

Tags: boats, caves, food, ha long bay, islands, sailing, squid fishing, travel, trips, wanderlust

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