Ha Long Way from Home

Trip Start Jan 22, 2009
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4
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Trip End Dec 22, 2009


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Where I stayed
Imperial Junk Boat

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday morning, after enjoying a nice free egg omelet and baguette breakfast with a delicious Vietnamese coffee at our hotel, we boarded the mini-bus to Halong Bay.  It was a tour that included transportation to and from Halong City, a guide, an overnight boat ride with stops along the way, and meals.  The bus ride to Halong city was about 3 hours. We, of course, stopped at a tourist spot along the way where they sold art, ceramics, stone sculptures, souvenirs. We didn't make any purchases but it was an interesting spot to walk around. When we arrived to the boat launch Clint bought a small bottle of "Scotch Whisky with Vietnamese Spirits" (whatever that means) to keep us warm.  We shared this trip with travelers from France, USA, China & the UK, most of whom were our ages except for a quirky 60 year old form Idaho who talked and told bad jokes all day long.  He was a professional photographer though so he gave us some good tips along the way.  Apparently, he took the photo for the default Windows XP wallpaper (taken in Idaho for those who were curious).  The weather definitely could have been better for this trip....it was cloudy, windy, and cold!  We were hoping to kayak, swim, sun bathe on the top of the boat,  instead we bundled up and took quick breaks outdoors to snap some photos.  Our ship was called "Imperial Junk" and had individual rooms for all the guests/couples. Each room even had a bathroom with hot showers!  We slept pretty well except when we woke around 5am to the intense smell of diesel in our room.  Blah!  The food on the boat was really good. We got to taste a few new fruits, ones we had never even seen before, and got to enjoy some fresh seafood.   Even with the weather and cloudy conditions, Halong Bay was pretty spectacular.  Our guide said there are over 2000 islands in the bay and they were surrounded by a beautiful emerald green colored water. The photos don't do it justice!  We stopped at a large limestone cave where we walked around inside it for about an hour and took some great photos.  After that we visited a floating village where 100 + families live.  There we got off our large boat and climbed into a small boat with one of the locals. We zipped around the village and into some areas that our big boat wouldn't fit.  Clint bought a Mango from a lady and her daughter who were selling every fruit you can imagine from their boat.  These venders row up to the tourist boats from morning to night trying to sell fruit, snacks, beer, wine, waters...you name it, they got it.  It looked exhausting rowing the boat in the windy weather, and we saw only petite women doing this.  

Our trip to Halong Bay was short but, considering the weather, was a perfect amount of time spent there. After Halong Bay we are off to Hue, Vietnam which is a city in central Vietnam, along the coast.  We heard the weather is warm and sunny there. Just what we need!     
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