We booked a three day two night trip to Halong Bay. It seems there really isn’t anyway of doing this otherwise. We were lucky as of the 12 on the tour we knew most.
Caroline and I obviously, Leigh from US, Joell and Stephen from Holland and Karen Goodfellow and Jill from UK. To add to our luck the other 5 were all really nice as well. I was a little apprehensive about the organized trip at first and may have been in a little grump about this. It wasn’t the most traveler experience sitting in a mini bus and being taken to warehouse markets for drinks and being expected to buy something. However when we arrived in a very touristy Halong bay and boarded our boat things started to look up. Our boat (as every other boat) was a big floating wooden hostel. Really nice rooms and a large nice dining room with a bar! First thing we did aboard was eat and pleasantly surprised. It turns out that I was wrong and this was going to be a fun trip. We headed off the “amazing cave”, which would have been amazing had it not been lit up by different colored lights and had a concrete pathway through. It was still “nice”. We then headed to the man made beach (apparently there are no real natural beaches in Halong bay.) Caroline and I went for a mammoth swim to the next island only to be told afterwards that there were jelly fish everywhere and that that wasn’t a great idea! Anyway, we survived!
We then moored up for the night and spent an hour or so jumping off the boat etc. Caroline managed to get the most amazingly big and multi coloured bruise on her thigh! in the Evening Caroline and I taught the others, who we hadn’t already, how to play “shithead”, so then we had it, an almighty game – consisting of 12 of us playing shithead and drinking beer, card games seem to be a good way of getting every drunk and socializing!
Next morning we got up for a very disappointing sunrise (5am), not the best way to start the day. We then headed off on a smaller boat to a floating hut to do some Kayaking round the floating fishing markets. Was really good fun however paddling through hundred of dead, stinking fish is not all that amazing. The water wasn’t really that clean either – think tourism may be having its affect on halong bay but the vietnamese don’t really seem to mind!!!!
Dropped in on monkey island for a swim having been told that there was no way we’d see monkeys etc (don’t think the guide could be bothered to go) only to find the beach was the local monkey hang out!
We arrived on Cat Ba Island in the afternoon and went for a bit of a non eventful trek up a mountain. Well apart from Karen sweating like no human we know (see picture) – I didn’t know nipples produced sweat!
Final day was just a long journey back to Hanoi. The weather was really nice so we just lay out on the deck and let the day go by. Our Halong Bay tour is a memorable journey in our life.