Calypso Cruise

Trip Start Feb 21, 2011
1
24
Trip End Jul 04, 2011


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Flag of Vietnam  , Quảng Ninh,
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

We'd heard a few horror stories about Halong Bay, and at one point we’d even considered giving it a miss. Two boats have sunk this year, one with tourists asleep onboard! We’d heard that the travel agents rip you off, and will show you pictures that are ten years old and sell you a cruise at twice the price you’re supposed to pay. It was apparently over crowded, polluted and not worth the price that they charge! We decided to do it anyway, and found one of the luxurious boats had a discount. We’d read up on some travel forums and everyone seemed to like the boat we had looked at, so we decided to go through with it. We had arranged to go the morning we got back from Sapa. Our train arrived at 4am and we got a taxi into town. We walked past the morning meat market – it looked like a slaughter house right on the side of the road. Huge chunks of beef being cut up right on the side walk, bones all being sold off as well! I have never seen anything like that before! We hung around until 8o’clock for our bus, watching hundreds of locals power walking around the lake for their weekly exercise!

We were picked up in a minibus with the other guests for the trip. The drive was four hours down to Halong Bay and our tour guide was really friendly and everyone got a chance to introduce themselves which served as a nice ice breaker. On the way down we were overtaken by a scooter which had a fully grown water buffalo tied on the back! Definitely the strangest thing we’ve seen so far!

When we got on the boat we were given a welcome drink and allocated a room. Within five minutes of being aboard we were happy we paid the money for a luxurious boat! Our room was beautiful, with the shower window looking out over the water. We had a chance to freshen up and then lunch was served, the food was incredible and we just managed to finish what was given to us! Our first stop was to a cave in one of the rock formations. It was huge and we spent an hour walking around and then headed back to the boat for the afternoon. We were given some leisure time which meant we could sit up on the deck and enjoy the view and have an afternoon swim. Just before dinner we were invited down for a lesson on making Vietnamese spring rolls and then we had an eight course dinner! The presentation was unbelievable, carrots carved into butterflies and tomatoes into roses! Afterwards we were offered a chance to sing karaoke but only one of the Spanish guys took up the offer! Bruce, funnily enough an Australian, got up and recited some Aussi poetry which was really funny. We all moved up to the deck and just enjoyed the evening in the bay with a few beers.

The next morning we were woken up and could take a kayak out for a paddle. There was a cave we paddled through and came into an island of water basically, with huge cliffs towering around us in a complete circle. Once again, we sat there speechless! Lol wasn’t feeling too great so when we went back on the boat she rested while we were getting ready to go back. The two Aussi couples were so nice, and the one lady used to be a nurse before she retired so she took Lol under her wing! The bus trip back was a long one for Lol, and neither of us were too keen for Hanoi, but we left  first thing in the morning to fly back to Bangkok so looking forward to that! 
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