We arrived early into Hanoi and then had to take a bus a few hours down the road to Halong Bay. Halong Bay is a world Heritage Centre and is trying to be recognised as one of the wonders of the world. When we were told that we had an afternoon of cruising around Halong Bay on a Junk Boat I envisaged a small traditional wooden boat
. The boat we ended up on was amazing and we were the only ones on it. There was nearly as many staff as there was of us. The boat was wooden but it was huge with a restaurant floor and a viewing deck. I really should learn not to think too much into what I believe something will be like, it never is. We were told we would get lunch and again from previous experience on these trips I thought a sandwich or maybe chips but we got a banquet. The banquet consisted of prawns, calamari, stuffed crab, salad, chips, veg and much more. It was amazing, all my bellies were full lol. Halong Bay is Famous for its karst mountains that protrude out of the water showing amazing islands. With my gorgeous glass of wine I sat on the viewing deck and watched in awe as we sailed through in between these fascinating natural spectacles. We stopped at one of Halong Bays floating villages. The village had a school, Bank, post office, living accommodation and a fish farm. It was great, some people never leave this village (Reminded me a bit of the film "Waterworld" lol). We also stopped on one of the islands to have a look at the amazing caves that some of the islands hide inside. The one we stopped at was very much dolled up for tourists with manmade water fountains and pretty lights. But I was like a big kid in a magical cave, I thought it was great. The stalactites and stalagmites were real and I actually remembered which were which. (Syalactites hold on tight, stalagmites try as the might can’t reach) Throughout the day we had thought it a little weird that our special Halong Bay tour guide had not really given us much information on the wonder that he was showing us
. We later found out that he wasn’t actually the tour guide his friend had given him his tour guide ID and gone off somewhere else so the reason he didn’t tell us anything was because he did not know anything and he shouldn’t have been there. I still very much enjoyed my day. My only disappointment was that I thought there was a seen from James Bond “man with the golden gun “ shot in Halong Bay but it was not :-[ lol.
When we returned to shore we headed to our hotel. Our hotel had an amazing view over the bay. There seems to be a theme to the hotels Mazza and I have frequented and one is that whenever we have stayed at a hotel with a pool it has just been condemned lol. It was still a very nice hotel in a very nice location. There is not much to see in the town of Halong Bay but we wondered out to the market. It seems that they need to employ a new photographer in Halong Bay as all the postcards and pictures are well old (Hay I may even volunteer ;-]). The souvenirs on sale were the same old same old and it was not a very busy market. I resisted my usual shopaholic urges.
To get to Hanoi we boarded an overnight sleeper train. We were told that this train was the worst overnight train in Vietnam but after the state of our last overnight train I couldn't see how it could get any worse. As it was Mr Tee was still trying to suck up after realising how much he had annoyed Mazza and I in Nha Trang so he upgraded us with the slush fund ;-] so we were in the first class bunks, very nice. Vince taught Mazza, Gemma, Jenny and I poker (Proper poker, no stripping). I have played it before many times on CCF camp but never really got it. I’m still not very good lol but it was fun trying.