Lost on Planet Earth – Mars Travel Journal – Vietnam Day Three

Vietnam 2011

Good Morning Vietnam!

Monday, 5 December – Halong Bay

Day 3 – Halong Bay, Vietnam

Today we woke up at 6am to leave our main bags behind at the hotel, and take only an overnight bag for stay over on Halong Bay.  For months now I had been waiting for the day I visit Halong Bay, it was everything I’d imagined.

A breakfast stop in Hanoi was scheduled before our journey to Halong Bay.  The restaurant was called KOTO, is located opposite the Temple of Literature and the wait staff are homeless children, the restaurant was set up to help the children and has been visited by many famous people including Bill Clinton and Julia Gillard.  The buffet food was mostly western dishes and some pho soups, it was very good quality.

Time to board the tour bus and begin the 4 hour bumpy road journey to Halong Bay.  After two hours of travel and sitting at the back of the bus looking out the window at all the rice patti fields, homes, farms and crossing many bridges we stopped at the Hong Ngoc Centre which sells silks, art, jewellery, statues, I purchased a blue silk dress with a Peacock on it for $30US.  I was beginning to feel car sick at this point and returning to the bus after 30 minutes break was not looking good for me.

Another 2 hours of travel spent laying down with my head in my partners lap in an effort to prevent sickness, we finally arrived at the Halong Bay Port, a toilet visit at the port cost 1000 Dong, received 3 out of 5 Happy Faces for cleanliness.

Boarding a little boat to transport us to the main boat we will spend the night on we were welcomed with a drink.  Our room on the boat was very nice, with a King bed, 2 viewing portals, and a shower combined with toilet.

A late lunch was served on board the Boat and we ate at a table with fellow travelers Scott and Sarah newly weds from New Zealand.  Our dishes included Prawns, a rice dish, mixed vegetables, pork, squid, spring rolls and watermelon.

At 3pm we boarded another small boat to visit the Halong Bay Caves.  Half way through the caves my knee began to ache badly from all the stairs and hobbled for most of our visit.  The caves were pretty, and the view of the bay from such a height was perfect for more “postcard” type photos.

Returning to our overnight boat we were offered to hire kayaks for $10US.  We changed into our swimmers, put on a life jacket and jumped into a two person kayak with me in the back.  Gliding along the bays water, we saw a cave opening ahead – “That-ta way!”.

Many other kayak adventurers had come to the cave opening that then opened into an enclosed mountain area, noticing many kayaks bunched together we rowed forward to see what all the excitement was.

Wild Monkeys!! Our tour guide had informed us they were a rare sight! We took some video’s and pictures of the monkey’s, they appeared really friendly and playful.  Returning to the main boat we both went for a swim in the bay beside the boat, the water was quite cold and I exited the water after the cold water became unbearable. Tick! Swimming in Halong Bay off my Bucket List).

We now had a chance to relax on the top deck with Lisa and Fiona two younger girls on our tour, while the boat slowly spun in circles watching the other boats do the same, it was a beautiful sight-seeing a city of lights on the water.

Dinner was served and we sat with Lisa and Fiona again. The menu included, Chicken soup, whole fish, crab meat, prawn cocktails, a chicken dish, battered squid and french fries.  Tonight we had a few cocktails off the menu and returned to the top deck to share stories about each other, our experiences of Vietnam and other travel adventures.

9pm came around, after a big day of traveling across northern Vietnam we decided it was time for a night-cap.  But then………..

To be continued…

Odd Observations:

  • The boat crew who served us slept on the bench seats the passengers are provided to sit on while eating on board meals.
  • Halong Bay is huge!  I wish we had another night or two here
  • Halong Bay is overcast for 90% of the year, to get a Postcard photo here would be near impossible.
  • Cocktails in Vietnam start at $2US.
  • French fries at dinner?  Where did they come from?
  • Deserts like Ice-cream and cakes are very hard to locate in Vietnam.
  • It is annoying switching between Vietnam Dong and US dollars all the time.