Day 1 in Hanoi
The next day of my trip to Hanoi Vietnam, was a cruise to Halong Bay on board Elizabeth Sails Junk. I booked a two days one night cruise arranged for me by the hotel tour desk manager. The cruise cost me USD109, inclusive of 2 lunches, dinner, and a breakfast. The tour guide will pick me up at the hotel supposedly by eight in the morning, but arrived in the hotel almost an hour later because of the traffic and being I was the last to be picked up.
Halong Bay is in Quang Ninh province which is 170 kilometers from Hanoi. The land travel was uneventful and dragging, the mini bus stopped for 20 minutes at a marble factory along the way. We arrived at the jetty in Bai Chay past 12 noon and surprised to find out that there were thousands of tourists waiting at the jetty all bound to Halong Bay. We were 17 tourists who will be cruising aboard Elizabeth Sails junk. The junk is stationed away from the jetty so we were ushered to a boat that brought us to the junk.
the scenery of the countryside
the bus that brought us to Bai Chay
the jetty port
the Elizabeth Sails Junk
my assigned room, I was lucky I was all alone
the dining hall of the junk
Immediately after we embarked we gathered at the second level, the dining area for the welcome drink and the room assignment. I was lucky I was alone in a twin sharing room. The room is quite nice with a small toilet and shower. The lunch was served 15 minutes after we were all settled in, and the junk begins to sail in a very slow pace. The lunch was vietnamese seafood cuisine set menu, and it was good. After the hearty lunch, I got the chanced to appreciate the beauty of Halong bay up closed. Because by the time we were done with our lunch, we were already in the middle of the bay. Truly it was really a magnificent landscape with varying sizes of limestone formation scattered around the bay. Ha Long is literally Descending Dragon in english. After I took an agonizing shower, because there is less water coming out from the shower head, I hurriedly climbed up to the sun deck and took photos with gusto.
this is the beach we were supposed to go for swimming the following day
By 3:30 we were to visit one of the cave attractions in Halong Bay, the Song Sot Cave or Surprise Grotto Cave. We were ushered to a wharf and climbed steep concrete steps to the mouth of the cave which is about 25m above sea level. The cave was humungous so to speak, and it was cold inside. Lightings and footpath were installed inside the cave for easy access and to add drama to the place. There are thousands of stalactites and stalagmites resembles many possible shapes and forms. There is one that highlighted by our tour guide that resemble into a phallus belonged to a king. At the inner chamber, it appears to be a wide theatre hall, with many stalactites hang from the ceiling in various forms and shapes. It is so wide it could contain thousands of people.
the Song Sot Cave, I was disappointed of the photos I took , this is the only decent one I had
view from the exit point of the cave
one of the many boat vendors in Halong bay
Kayaking is the next activity after the cave visit. In one of the floating village nearby the wharf is where the kayaks can be rented, it is free for us since it is inclusive of the cruise. I took the opportunity to do photo shooting. We all went to the junk after that and spent the rest of the day relaxing. My anticipated sunset viewing was not spectacular as I was expecting. The afternoon was gloomy though there was no rain. By 7pm the dinner was served. The food was not as delicious compared to lunch but still ok. Evening was uneventful, and I just lay in sun-bathing chairs hoping to view a starry starry sky but there was none, so I just slept sooner than I would have to.
sunset was not spectacular..
The next day activities were never followed as a lot hopped in the boat from the tourists who will returned back to jetty. We were supposed to go to Totov island for swimming, and visit another cave. The boat were crowded when we returned back to Bai Chay. We arrived at the jetty before 12 noon and took lunch at Thang Long restaurant nearby. By 1:30pm we begun our land travel back to Hanoi, and I arrived at the hotel by 6:00 in the evening.
the sunrise the following day is also ordinary
the rain came in the morning
views on the way back to Bai Chay jetty
I spent the rest of the night roaming around the Old Quarter and ended the night at one of the bars near the Backpackers Lane. The cruise was really amazing, and I must say it satisfied my long desire to visit the place.
On my last day in Hanoi, I got to see Uncle Ho in person. On my next post.