Once we decided that we weren’t going to be staying in Ha Noi for three months, we felt free to make some further travel plans. Instead of staying in town and sorting out an apartment, job and bus schedule we could hit the road again!
We’ve both always wanted to go to Halong Bay. A UNESCO World Heritage site and the top tourist attraction in all of Vietnam, this protected bay on the east coast of the country boasts jade green waters, mysterious rock formations and lots and lots of boats full of Australians.
Ok, the boats full of Australians aren’t really a reason to go to Halong Bay… but they’re definitely omnipresent. It’s like all of Tamworth decamped to the Vietnamese coast.
While we were there we saw a sign that claimed that Halong Bay was one of the “Seven Modern Wonders of the Natural World” and we were told that the Vietnamese consider Halong Bay to be the “Eighth Natural Wonder of the World.” However, since neither the sign nor the person who told us about the eighth wonder was using any type of recognizable English, I’m not really sure where Halong Bay ranks. Let’s just say, it’s wonderful.
After two weeks of grey skies in Ha Noi, we were really hoping for some sunshine on Halong Bay. Alas, this was not to be. We just really weren’t there at the right time of year for warm and sunny days. Having said that, the misty mornings and cloud-shrouded evenings made for some moody and mysterious looking photos! Maybe there really are dragons out there!
Halong Bay is dotted with floating villages. People live in the houseboats and make their livings either fishing or catering to tourists. The floating houses are painted a brilliant array of colours that pop out against the grey stones. So beautiful…
We visited one of the floating villages and were able to take a kayak out on the bay. Andy and I both really love to kayak, so this was a huge treat for us! We put our small point-and-shoot camera in a plastic baggie so we could take it out on the water with us. Thankfully, the camera stayed dryer than we did. Let’s just say, I tend to paddle splashily. Poor, damp Andy.
After kayaking we all retired to our boat, where we would be spending the night. We were prepared for some primitive conditions, but it was dead posh! We had our own private cabin, our own bathroom with hot water, a really comfy bed and several multi-course meals!
After our yummy dinner, everyone on the boat was invited outside on the deck to go squid fishing. We all enthusiastically dunked our poles in the water, careful to avoid the local lady on a bamboo boat who was just as enthusiastically trying to sell us all cans of Coke or packages of batteries. We stood there, eyes trained on the water, poles bobbing up and down, for ages. No one caught a squid. No one even had a squidy nibble. Turns out, it wasn’t squid season.
The next two nights of the trip were spent in a lovely hotel on Cat Ba island in the middle of the bay. I’ll tell you about our adventures on Cat Ba in another post… get excited!