Published: November 17th 2010November 16th 2010
Cow on a Motorbike
We've seen it all now would you believe this cow was still alive
Hanoi to Halong Bay
Today again after another substantial breakfast, we met the Guide in the lobby for a 8am start to Halong Bay. We had had to condense our luggage into an overnight bag to take onto the junk, but our bags were to stay in the bus in the bay. We had a different driver today, as the last one was ill. This one favoured his mobile phone, as in Vietnam it is not an offence to phone and drive.
On our journey, we passed more remnants of the French influence. There were ladies on the side of the road selling fresh baguettes and rolls. More exciting i might add was our passing of a cow strapped to the back of a motorbike. It was alive, having just been purchased from the market, and being transported back to the village, tail swishing, it must have been happy!
After a 4 hour drive, we reached the bay, and were transported by boat to our Junk. The bay has over 400 boats servicing it, all of which seemed to be in service. Our boat had room for 20, but actually there are only 10 of us. Our room
was very nice, with a large bathroom, double bed, but curiously nowhere to hang anything. The bay itself is spectacular once you get out amongst the limestone formations. There are the usual 'that one looks like a' formations not really resembling anything much until you've had a couple of Tiger beers, so as you can imagine we saw alsorts of stuff even things the Vietnamese hadn't thought of. We had a seafood lunch whilst the boat was making it's way toward our destination 'the cave of suprises'which to be fair as we are not massive sea food lovers was really nice, King Prawn, some sort of crab in its shell filled with rice, a white fish dish with a dessert of dragon fruit.
After lunch a small boat took us from our boat out to the cave which we could see half way up the cliff side. Once we had climbed the 100 steps to the entrance, the inside was filled with stalagmites and stalagtites which had been colourfully lit to show their best effect. This is called the "cave of surprises". One of the more famous formations is a lit phallic symbol. There were four or five other
caves, all of which contained "images" in the rock formations which we tried to see.
We returned to the boat, and got changed into our swim stuff to go on a kayaking trip to a lagoon. It had clouded over by this time, and the light was starting to fade. Despite this we set out paddling following the guide through a tunnel into a lagoon it was quite a bit further than we imagined and in places the current was pretty strong our kayak has an especially annoying tendancy to want to go to the right. The water was especially green, and we had been told that their were wild monkeys in the cliffs. We waited a while, and one small monkey came down to have a look. Our guide said usually they get fed bananas and bread, and we would return in the morning as a group.
We left the lagoon and started to paddle towards the spot where the captain had told us he would anchor the boat and wait for us. It was nearly dark, and when we got to where the captain was supposed to be leaving the boat with its lights on, it
wasn't there! Instead we paddled back to the kayak base and our guide had to ring the boat for us to be picked up. They arrived by torchlight, and we were transported back to the boat.
Dinner was at 7pm so we just had enough to get a quick shower and meet back for cocktails. As we sat with our drinks, the captain turned on the lights around our boat and we lit up like one of the trams at Blackpool Illuminations! Then the disco started, with fog machine and glitter ball. We thought we were going to be in for a long night, but in fact they were just testing they worked for a student trip that was coming up.
Once again dinner had a fish theme, with soup, prawns, calamari, clams and another white fish in sauce. After dinner, we retired upto the top deck of the boat for a last Tiger beer before bed knowing we had an early start in the morning.
There are more photos below