Halong Bay: The Magic of the Dragon.
Trip Start Apr 28, 2011
48Trip End Apr 30, 2013
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Where I stayed
A Class Boat
After our looong coach journey to the capital city Hanoi we were all knackered and had a quiet one. After visiting various tourist information places trying to shop around for the best cruise around Halong Bay we finally agreed on a boat call A-Class (we been me, Ryan, Di and Kiera) which we booked through our hotel. The price we paid was kind of mid range, there were lots cheaper but two more expensive and the 'Posh' in me really wanted to book the top of the range one, but was soon talked down by my fellow TRAVELLERS! Anyway the cruise was a 3 day 2 night and after a 3 hour bus journey we arrived in the harbour all set for our luxury cruise.
We finally boarded our boat (almost an hour late so a little bit peed off) but were pleased with what we saw. The harbour was surrounded by lots of different ones and ours was defo one of the biggest and the prettiest so we were all happy and jolly again. Inside what was going to be our home for the next few days was a medium sized wooden dining room with a sun deck up some stairs and cabins along the top and bottom of the boat. We were all given our keys (there were only 13 of us)and showed to our cabins which were AMAZING!! The whole room was made from dark Vietnamese wood and there in the middle of our big double bed laid a single red rose which was a lovely touch and made me chuckle to think about what the Lovebirds next door would make of it! (Di and Kiera). It was all very romantic, to go into the small but spotless bathroom all glass shower and chrome taps you simply had to draw a pair of curtains. But best of all right next to our bed was a window which gave us a sea view......we loved it!! After a quick unpack and change of clothes it was lunch time and the food was delicious. The only thing we could knock it for was the fact that the food was brought out in dribs and drabs so just when you'd eaten all the lovely seafood and meat 20 minutes or so later they'd bring out the salad rice and chips!! We didn't care though we were buzzing and raring to go!! After lunch we went off to see 2 caves which were extraordinary and twice world heritage sites. Althoughy inside you wouldn't believe both caves were all completely nataural, there was nothing superficial about them except the lighting.
After the caves we got back on board we were given what was described in our itineray as our 'cooking class'. As it turns out we were slightly dissapointed cos all this entailed was us rolling already minced up shrimp and vegatables into rice paper to make spring rolls. We didn't even get to fry em!! Ryan had brought his Jamie Oliver apron n lot ( ha ha kidding). After what our tourist explained in broken english was our 'eating class' (us eating our produce!) we watched the sunset then all went swimming in the sea. Then it was shower and PRE-LASH time!! (Our new name for the pre drinks we all have before we go out). Me, Ryan, Di and Kiera all had some vodka we'd sneaked on the boat then went up for dinner, which again was lush right up untill the point that Di went pale faced and nearly choked on her shrimp. Right next to the bar area what did she see scurrying by?? A RAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This really put a dampner on my night and took at least 4 or 5 more voddy's for me to finally relax. Everyone else seemed to find it a joke but i really was not happy apparently "you'd even find a rat on the QE2". Whatever. At night we had the choice of squid fishing or sitting in the bar and getting pissed. We chose the latter of course cos we thought better of the fishing when we saw a french couple sit for hours without catching a thing. (Thats my excuse and i'm sticking to it!!). The four of us got sat drinking with a lovely Canadian couple and one of the young Vietnamese staff called Tye. He was only about 20 ish, he didn't speak English we didn't speak Vietnamese but he seemed to be having the time of his life after us feeding him a vodka or 2! "Ga-Ga, ooh la la!!" was all he'd say repeatedly demanding we play Lady Gaga on our ipods inbetween fits of giggles. Next thing we know he did one and we saw him sparko fast asleep in the middle of the dining room!! Ha ha was a good night and even better day.
A little bit hung-over but excited for the day ahead we had breakfast then we all went kayaking around the limestones, and i feel like i've been saying this far too often but you've never seen anything as beautiful in your life. It was just so calm and with the sun beating down on you you really did feel like we were on a different planet. It was the first time i'd been kayaking and although i thought it was difficult at first we soon got into our stride and eventually were rowing around the mountains and caves like pro's!! We followed our tour guide who took us through a floating village which is exactly what it says. Now and again in the middle of nowhere in the water was a little hut where people actually live its unbelieveable to imagine. The guide explained that throughout Halong Bay there are 300 and something of these houses and the locals simply live off the food they catch from the sea in order to survive. (Running up and down a plank of one of these homes was a rather cute boarder collie and i couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor thing. I just cant get the vision of fried dog out of my head!!) He also explained that every morning a little bamboo boat calls round and picks up all the children to take them to school!! The whole experience was fantastic, i kept feeling as though i had to pinch myself to believe i was actually at such a gorgeous place. After an uneventful kayaking session (despite Ryan trying to rock us into the water numerous times) we got back on board where we had fruit and wine then got on a smaller boat which was to take us to our next destination- Monkey Island. This was yet another gorgeous beach with a huge mountain and the plan was to climb to the top to see the monkeys, which me Ryan and Kiera backed out of. The mountain was huge, it was absolutely steifling hot and the crystal clear sea looked sooo inviting so us 3 got a nice cold beer and went swimming. The beach was gorge apart from next to the sea was really pebbly. Mr Never-Forgets-Anything or Never-Does- Anything wrong had to go bare foot cos all he had with him was a pair of flip-flips. He'd only gone and brought 2 left feet from the flip-flops we'd been given on the boat!!! Anyway turns out giving the mountains a miss was a good choice with the look on everyones faces when they'd come back down. They were all red faced and gasping for breath, they'd not seen any monkeys and apparently the whole climb was an absolute death trap!!
After the beach and travelling back to the A-Class boat we were surprised to see that whilst we had been out and about more people had boarded just for a one night trip. We were quite glad actually as we thought the more the merrier and got talking to another nice couple from London. Once back on board the rest of the day more or less went very similar to the first. Another 'cooking' and 'eating' lesson, more wine and fruit whilst watching the sunset then another night on the vodka after another lovely meal. (Luckily no sign of Splinter!! Our nickname for our uninvited passenger, although i could have sworn i heard him under our bed that morning and refused to get out of bed untill Ryan had investigated).
We seemed to have much more fun this night as there were more of us and we all got playing daft drinking games (lethal) and the next thing you know it us girls are taking it in turns to show off our gymnast skills, Kiera doing 'the crab' me doing head stands (ha ha see the pic's). Yep, another night of binge drinking for Carter n Cooty but what the hell its not as if we're ever up for work in the morning is it!! We had a fab night and made some fantastic people who'll defo keep in contact with on facebook to keep up to date on each other's travels etc.
Afer breakfast we checked out of our cabins, left our bags in the dining room then went off for another kayak sesh. However this one wasn't half as enjoyable and a little bit of a let down. The trip wasn't half as organized, we were kind of given the khaiaks and told to explore with no tour guide and all ended up more or less stuck in a cave!! It was MAYHEM. As well as kayaks there were also boats containing 4-5 passengers and a Vietnamese local at the back doing the paddles. Well, while there's about 15 boats and kayaks trying to get through a gap in this small cave Ryan the professional kayaker thought it would be funny to go pelting into one of the boats about 20 mile an hour (slight exaggeration but felt like it). The Vietnamese woman rowing WAS NOT amused and i got whacked in the stomach with her rower!! Now it was my turn i was fuming. A boat full of unimpressed foreigners looking at us in disgust and i'm shouting "A se!!! that hurt yer stupid cow!". Ryan were ready to drag her off boat but she just rowed off. It did actually hurt and i had a right muddy patch on my top! After finally making it out of the cave alive the heavens opened and it absolutely pissed it down. Drenched and winded we headed back to our boat (which we couldn't find at first) and we all absolutely stunk with our clothes soaking through (yer know that smell when you dont take your clothes out of washer?? yuk! and we'd checked out of our cabins too!). We all sat down for lunch then our trip was over. :(
Over-all, although there were a few let downs Halong Bay was a magical and memorable experience and we'd defo reccomend to all.