Halong Bay

This is it! The end of my Asian journey! I can’t believe it’s over, it went by in a happy flash.

We journeyed to Ha Noi on the 6th by plane and the heat was so sticky and brutal we couldn’t stand exploring the streets too much that night! We stayed for one night (enough time to book our trip to Halong Bay) and travelled by bus to Halong City the following morning. Unfortunately, Halong City was a bust. When we arrived it was raining and dreary, we were tired, hot and hungry, and no one could speak well enough English to help us find a proper hotel or restaurant. We wandered around with our heavy backpacks for about 40 minutes looking for a decent hostel to stay at but no matter where we went they either had no rooms available or had disgusting living conditions. We ended up picking a random dodge hotel that had one available room on the 5th floor (and no ¬†elevators, the horror!), box-springs for mattresses, smelt like urine, and donated duvet covers as sheets. Whenever we asked the front desk for advice or help, they would just laugh because they couldn’t understand what we were saying! There weren’t any other foreigners around, just a lot of Vietnamese people from other parts of Vietnam, travelling to the beach town for their own vacations. The foreigners that travel to Halong Bay usually don’t stay in the city but instead take tours that travel from Ha Noi straight to the boat cruise for 2 or 3 days and then back on the bus to Ha Noi. Kathryn and I thought it would be nice to check out the city for 2 days before taking the cruise. Mistake. It rained the whole time, the beach was absolutely crowded, and the city is actually very small so there are no interesting sites to take a look at.

That is, until we got on the boat tour on the 9th! The boat we travelled on wasn’t very big but we had our own room for the first night that was as good as can be expected for an asian boat tour. The first day on the tour we sailed around the famous Halong Bay islands that are featured on the countries money (Vietnam dong), visited the Sung Sot Caves, kayaked into a beautiful secluded pool area in the middle of one of the islands, and jumped off the top of the ship into the ocean with a beautiful sunset in the background! I was too chicken to jump from the top at first, but Kathryn coached me through it and I managed to do it at least once while Kathryn jumped a number of times. That night we slept on the boat and the following morning we were up early to go to Cat Ba Island where we trekked up a steep mountain and took pictures at the very top! The trek was exhausting and dehydrating, I almost fainted when we reached the top! When we climbed back down the Island we were taken to “Monkey Island” (ironically monkey-less) for some rest and relaxation. There was a restaurant, a number of small cabins, and a rather rocky beach at this location so Kathryn and I spent the majority of the afternoon swimming in the wavy ocean and sunbathing. We had dinner with a group of Norwegians we had met on the boat and headed to our cabin for the night. Terrifying enough, our cabin was full of insects! Cockroaches mostly, but also strange centipedes that literally glowed in the dark! I hate cockroaches so much so it goes without saying that there was much squealing, shrieking and lack of sleep that night. We both didn’t waste any time packing up and checking out in the morning, that’s for sure! Our final day on the boat was spent travelling back to Halong City and enjoying the sun on the top deck of the boat! The cruise ended around noon and we took a bus back to Ha Noi, where we spent the night wandering the streets, eating, and relaxing.

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