Ha Long Bay

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
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Sunday, December 11, 2005

We got picked up by the mini bus early from our hotel for the two day trip to the beautiful world heritage listed Ha Long Bay. Luckily we were first on the bus so bagged the good seats again (we are becoming very knowledgeable on which
seats are good for long tours on the variety of different busses). After a few stops to pick up other tourists we head off on the three hour drive. The weather was very cloudy and misty and we were hoping it would clear before we reached the bay.

No such luck. When we stopped halfway at Hai Duong city the sky was still looking miserable. The bus ride was interesting. We had a group of Aussies from Brisbane, a family of two middle aged sisters with their children aged from 5 to about 18. Man were they real Aussie ockers. We are really starting to notice how irritating some Australians can be when abroad.

When we reached the boat at Ha Long Bay we jumped aboard and checked out or digs for the night. Pretty cool. The boat had a dining room, rooftop sundeck and our quite roomy bedroom. For some reason we weren't allowed into our rooms yet so we cruised around for what felt like ages in a heavy mist. As we couldn't see anything we joked that the boat could be going around in circles for two days and we wouldn't have known. Lunch on the boat was seafood and the normal noodles, rice and vegetables. Nothing extraordinary and not quite enough but ok.

Eventually we started to see some of the beautiful landscape that makes up the bay. At the Sun Sot Cave we docked and set off to explore inside. It was
really cool and we got come great pictures of the stalactite formations. In some instances we had to stretch our imaginations a bit as the guide pointed formations that looked like animals. "Look an elephant!" to us looked like a rock with a bit sticking out of it. We ended up just nodding and pretending we could see it, otherwise we weren't allowed to move on until we appreciated the full beauty of the formations.

After the cave we headed a little further on to Titop Island where we climbed the 40 or so steps for a fantastic panoramic view of Ha Long Bay. It was eerie in the mist but really beautiful. They gave us the option of having a swim, but the water
was a little cold so we headed back to the boat for a nap before dinner. The room was really nice with wood paneling, a hot water shower and attached bathroom. Great views out the window too!

Dinner was mostly the same as lunch, seafood with rice and noodle dishes. Yummy. We sat and chatted to the other couples for a few hours over Tiger beer then headed to bed. When we got to our room we thought we had gone to the wrong one as the windows were steamed up and it sounded like someone was having a shower. We tried the key anyway and sure enough the room was ours. When we opened the door it was like stepping into a sauna at the gym. It turned out a pipe had come free from the shower and been spraying boiling water onto the bathroom floor for 3 hours while we unknowingly had dinner upstairs. Meg raced upstairs to explain to our guide what was going on in our room but eventually had to drag him downstairs and show him. The bathroom luckily had
contained all the water but with the door open the walls, floor and roof were covered in beads of water from the steam. Luckily our bed and daypacks were dry so we wiped down the walls and roof with some towels and one of the crew fixed the broken pipe. We then spent the next few hours with the fan on and windows fully open to dry out our room! Eventually it dried out and everyone on the boat had a good look and a laugh at what had happened. We hadn't even had a shower so don't know how it all happened but we don't think the crew believed us.

After a great night sleep in the dead quiet bay we cruised towards Bai Tu Long Bay and had a look at a rock formation that looks like two chickens fighting (as usual we just nodded our heads in agreement) then headed back to Ha Long town for lunch. More seafood and rice but the worst spring rolls we have ever had. Then we took the minibus back to Hanoi.

We had a quick early dinner then headed to the train station to catch a train to Hue. Settling into the cabin with our supply of munchies we talked to our fellow cabin passengers who were a very strange (and we think pretty drunk) couple from London. They were a bit self absorbed but offered us some of their beer then dragged us to the food carriage where there was a group of French tourists singing songs and jumping about. Interesting. The Londoners got even more pissed and fell into a dead sleep both of them on the cramped top bunk, taking it in turns to snore all night keeping us awake. We were happy to get off in the morning when we arrived in Hue.
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