Ha Long Bay - UNESCO World Heritage Site

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February 11th 2007
Published: February 14th 2007
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Mat: Ha Long Bay is a must do in northern Vietnam. If Sapa is the Queenstown of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is the Milford Sound. So we obligingly booked a 3-day tour of the place. One of the best US$50 I have spent.

We were transported in a Mercedes van to Ha Long city, and boarded our boat. This first boat ended up being the only glitch of the trip as 40 minutes into our trip we stopped, a couple of jarring clunks were felt, and the motor was cut. After a torturous wait sipping Tiger beer on the sun deck surrounded by the beautiful limestone cliffs of Ha Long Bay, another boat from the same company turned up and tied up to us and escorted us through the bay for the remainder of the day. We had two hours after dusk without power (I am still not sure why the steering fault meant they could not fire up the generator) but eventually there was light and food.

I ate too much and went to sleep at 8.30pm (I'm 30 now). But was able to get up at dawn and soak in the peace of the morning by myself on the top deck.

I was not expecting Ha Long Bay to be as good as it was. I had heard about the numbers of tourists that went there, and that there was quite a bit of rubbish in the water. There were loads of tourists, but we did not see them once we were on the water away from the harbour on the mainland or the caves in the bay. The water looked pristine (I saw only 5-10 plastic bags the whole trip). Even the fishing villages looked relatively tidy. Being on the water was peaceful, and very beautiful. You can see the place in photos, but when this landscape surrounds you, it has a deeply relaxing effect.

The second day we transferred to a smaller boat with a very friendly crew, and cruised about. We went for a three hour walk on Cat Ba Island, then the boat took us to a tiny island with a white sand beach for lunch (complete with table and chairs and fresh seafood). Surreal. After going for a swim we cruised to a guy's floating house who fished and hired out kayaks for a living. It was even more peaceful exploring the cliffs in a kayak.

We then headed to the town on Cat Ba Island and were put up in a very good hotel room. Great dinner, great buffet breakfast. We then hopped back on another boat and pottered back to Halong City. We enjoyed ourselves so much we boarded another boat and headed out for another night.

If you go to Vietnam, chill out for a couple of days in Ha Long Bay.

Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 23


HOLY KITEs over the waterHOLY KITEs over the water
HOLY KITEs over the water

Trace in particular spent a lot of time watching these kites gliding and fishing over the Bay.
Our rescue boat Our rescue boat
Our rescue boat

Here you can see the boat that rescued us from our steering fault by tying up to us and the two boats traveling in convoy.
Dawn on the boatDawn on the boat
Dawn on the boat

Despite the clear sky, the haze meant that the sun looked like a glowing orange moon
The brideThe bride
The bride

This Vietnamese girl had been married the day before the trip. Her and her husband were very hard case together, the epitome of a honeymoon couple. We were shocked and amused when they stood up at lunch on the island and said "we go somewhere now" and smiled cheekily (we found out that they actually just wanted to get out of the sun).
Mr Hung and MatMr Hung and Mat
Mr Hung and Mat

I had a good long chat with our guide, a laid back young fella with good english. He used to be a guide on the northwest loop, so I was able to ask him lots of questions about things I had wondered about at the time but been unable to find out.

14th February 2007

Surreal is the word !!!!
Thank you both for your incredible, insightful,inspirational,indelible.idyllic glimpses into your lives since you left home.I am completely immersed in your experiences every time I blog on.I carry the images and your comments with me.The pics are awesome.You are indeed an intrepid pair bringing this beautiful and historically ravaged part of our world alive through your journals.Go well my loves .You are in our hearts and thoughts all the way.Arohanui
15th February 2007

What's wrong with 8.30 ?
Welcome to my world Mat ! zzzzzzzzzzzz......just a little power nap before I continue. Ha Long Bay sounds like it sneaked up on you both and hit you unexpectedly with its beauty. love the blog, love to you bo zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
15th February 2007

Tip of the day
Ahhhh, not only do we explore the east in this blog, but also the secrets of NZ CEOs.... If an afternoon nap is good enough for Roy, it is good enough for me.
4th February 2015

very cool. any advice on picking a tour company? thanks
4th February 2015

Tour company
Thanks. It's been 7 or 8 years since I was there, sorry I'm not sure who would be best now.

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