Ha Long Bay
Trip Start Jun 11, 2007
48Trip End Jul 26, 2007
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The boat was nice and consisted of a semi-open-air dining room with a sun deck on top. We waited a while to leave the port and then pushed off and had lunch. The other passengers were from all over but we made friends with three people who are all doing a trip prior to starting at Harvard Business School in the fall. One of them went to Penn, which was cool. The boat went cruising out into the bay which is full of 3,000 small rocky fauna-covered islands.
We cruised to a cave that was full of stalagmites and illuminated with all kinds of colored lights. The guide, who didn't speak much english, was trying to tell the myths/stories behind all of the rock formations but it came out sounding ridiculous. We had fun explaining the alternate interpretations to the group. From there we cruised for a while before arriving at the floating villages: groups of permanent floating houses/huts/boats. It was crazy to think that people lived out there. We were escorted off the junk onto a tiny boat which we took through a cave into a small lagoon and around a couple of the islands.They didn't tell us until afterwards that this was not included and that we would have to pay for it. This was in line with the apparent attitude of trying to suck every last penny out of us. It was a little distracting.
From there we cruised back to to harbor to drop some people off and turned around for more cruising. Around sunset we moored in a small lagoonish area for kayaking. It wasn't until we were in the kayak in the middle of the water that the real impact of the place sunk in; the landscape in the bay is unimaginably surreal. Its like something out of Water World. It made one wonder about the diversity of landscapes and environments that there are in the world, not to mention the diversity of lifestyles. It was pretty cool.
After kayaking we had dinner on the boat and had a couple of beers with the guide who we pressured into going drink for drink with us. He got drunk really quickly and started acting like a goof, which was pretty funny. We sat on the sun deck and looked at the bay in the dark for a while before crashing in our unexpectedly non-airconditioned compartment.