Day 58 / Day 17 of ATID – Halong Bay cruise
So this post is going to be short, in that it’s only going to cover one day – which we spent most of on a cruise along the beautiful Halong Bay – not an optional activity but included as part of the tour. We got off the sleeper train at 4am in Hanoi on this day and then got on a private bus to make the 4 hour journey to Halong Bay. Once we got there, well, there’s not a huge amount to do in the town itself so we checked in and then were back on the bus, heading to the shoreline to climb aboard our rather snazzy cruise ship.
Don’t think anyone in the group was expecting the level of luxury onboard! We had an included lunch as part of the cruise and we gathered below deck in a rather plush dining area to await table service soon after getting onboard. I’d opted for the veggie option as dislike seafood (which is what everyone else got), which was fine except for the tofu, which, I’m not going to lie, was foul. I think Chengdu changed my opinion on tofu somewhat as they had excellent stuff there as part of the hotpot, but unfortunately onboard this Vietnam cruise ship, it wasn’t nice.
Anyway afterwards, we went on to the top deck and spent a lovely hour or two admiring the gorgeous view and chatting. It was cloudy, but I was glad of it as it meant the temperature was bearable, unlike in Hue. The karsts along the bay are very similar to the ones we saw in various places in China and would see again on our travels.
We had two stops on our cruise, the first of which was at Động Thiên Cung cave. There is more than one such cave along the Halong Bay; full of interesting stalactites and stalagmites, all lit up by different coloured lights. Very pretty to walk around.
Since we’d got off the train, we’d had a local guide with us was with us on the boat co-ordinating things and also took us around the cave.
The second stop was for about one hour for those who had opted into do a bit of kayaking – Dave and I had. It was $20 (US) each, which felt a little bit steep, but it was very good fun. This was my first experience kayaking ever but as the water was very calm it was great for a first timer and I really enjoyed it, to the point of actually getting quite into it and (I like to think) helping Dave win the ‘race’ back to where our cruise ship was waiting after we had looped around our route…it was good to feel a sense of fun and enjoyment out of a vaguely sporty/adrenaline-ish activity after my mini-disaster with abseiling! Dave had done kayaking before, so he was a great help in teaching me further what to do once we got on the boat (our guide had sort of given us a demo beforehand!).
After kayaking, we cruised back towards land, slowly taking in an absolutely gorgeous sunset as we went. Er, the whole group may have gone a little picture crazy at this point, I’ll be honest.
In the evening, once back at the hotel, we went for dinner to yet another Italian restaurant – there isn’t a huge choice of food apart from noodle stalls and a few touristy restaurants. Hey, I’m not complaining, I love Italian food, even in Vietnam. It was a little expensive but the pasta was of a decent portion this time!
Normally I’d end it there but I feel it necessary to mention the utterly traumatic experience that followed. So, at this time of year, there are A LOT of cicadas and other bugs about. A lot of FLYING bugs. When we had returned to the hotel earlier in the evening, we’d discovered a hideous swarm of what Dave reckons were flying ants in a tornado under one of the lights in the corridor leading to our rooms (somebody had left a window open!), but after reception was informed, we expected the issue to be solved on our return. Er, it wasn’t quite. There were still many flying critters about and it felt like some sort of action film mission to get past them, into our room and slam the door. A few still got in though and started to whack at all of these with a shoe.
MEANWHILE, even though we’d been sure the window had been completely closed when we left earlier, clearly we had been wrong because something that looked the size of a TENNIS BALL zoomed in as I was destroying the last of the flying ants and started bouncing hideously from wall to wall. It was a giant cicada and I all but lost the plot at this stage – I have Dave to thank for rescuing me and killing the thing…
A beautiful cruise followed by a Thrilling Battle Against The Bugs of Halong Bay summarises this day!!!
Thanks for stopping by! Next post will be about Hanoi, our last stop in Vietnam 🙂