16 November, 2012

Vietnam - Ha Long Bay (2 day post)

The train trip from Sapa to Hanoi was over, THANK GOD!!! The train was HOT, uncomfortable and down right disgusting... But hey, we survived!! It was now time to find our way out to Ha Long Bay for a Junk cruise... This part of the trip, I think, I was MOST looking forward to! Our driver arrived at the hotel, but as we didn't know, he didn't know us either, so we both missed each other by accident! But, the hotel guys introduced us to each other and we loaded our bags, and the 3 hour drive had commenced (and me in the shotgun seat)! At first, not even out of the first street, I didn't know if I should be happy or scared!

About 90 minutes into the trip, we stopped into a 'service center' type place, selling everything from marble statues to long stitch silk artworks. Here we grabbed a drink, some snacks, and I also swapped shotgun! Along the way, J took a short video of a near miss, but we had an even closer one where we were on the other side of the road, overtaking that was WAY TO CLOSE! Vietnam has no road rules I am sure now! Another 60 minutes down, and we were pulling into the Ha Long Bay Marina area.

Upon arrival, our bags left with a porter, we were assigned our junk, and a small tender took us out to it. We also had to put on 'Life Vests' (Personal Floatation Devices)! We had to go upstairs where we were welcomed aboard with welcome drinks, a small briefing (what was happening rather than a safety briefing) before heading to see our cabins. The cabins were actually not too bad space wise, although more on that later... We quickly unpacked, got out clothes that needed to be washed, and tended to that, before getting ready for the afternoon tour. By this stage, we had already sailed a fair distance, and had just dropped anchor. The tour this afternoon was through a local fishing village, that actually live on the bay itself!


When we got back to the junk, J had stayed behind as it was his turn to be a little unwell, we did a quick look at photos, before getting ready for dinner. There was a large French tour group, c. 24 people, a honeymoon couple and another 3some onboard, and an aged English couple! We also felt a little 'underdressed' for dinner, but who cares, we're on holiday!!

Dinner was delicious, we all had the Australian Steak, as opposed to the fish. It was a five course meal, and was mostly, very nice indeed! After dinner, we did some 'squid fishing' (dangling hook with lure) all to no avail...


The following morning, we woke to grey skies, no rain, and a coolish morning, which was pleasant. However, when J went into M's cabin, there was a very distinct smell of gas! This only compounded other issues that had been in the room!! The shower door would not close, so water went everywhere, and the drain would not drain, so water WAS everywhere! The a/c turned itself off overnight, and the extra wall fan did not work either!! And, to top it all off, the cabin had NO Life Vests (PFD's) either, so not a very safe cabin to have been in at all!! Needless to say, we reported it to the Cruise Manager! There was only a light breakfast being served, a slightly more substantial brunch was to be served later... After breakfast, we headed towards the 'Surprise Cave', and the tender was to take us across to it. We were told that there was 600 odd steps along the way, in three parts, up to, inside and the way down. The walk through the cave, was fantastic, lots to see, and was well worth it!


We were soon back on the junk, and heading back towards the marina and the drive back to Hanoi. The drive back though, was a quicker affair, and much smoother... Forgetting the fact that along the way, it was often quicker and easier to simply drive on the opposite side, in excess of the speed limit... And then we took a turn off, that seemed to go into the 'who knows where' area, a small concrete (single car width just about) road along a ridge, but thankfully he did this, as in no time at all, we were pulling into our hotel... It was nice to see we were 'home'!

We took a moment or two to freshen up, and then headed out for dinner and a walk up the street markets, and that was extreme with cars, bikes and people moving every which way other than the way we wanted to go!! but, I got a bargain, a new belt... Starting price was 450,000VND, but, with bargaining and more bargaining, I walked away with it for 260,000VND (he wasn't at all happy with my bargaining style...)

Hoo roo for now...



  1. "Interesting" & "challenging" are the two words that come to mind after viewing & reading this. It's certain to be an unforgettable experience! It does sound as though you are having a great the trip over all. Thanks for the updates. Enjoy the rest!

  2. Love th epictures! Look forward to more of them!


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