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Published: June 22nd 2009
I booked a tour last Thursday through my hostel, the Hanoi Backpackers Hostel. It was called the Ha Long Bay Rock Long Rock Hard
I should have realized that when they were talking about rocks, it was not the limestone karst islands or the rock-climbing they were referring to.
No, it was the incessant partying
that the young crowd on the boat trip did.
I guess I'm turning into a cranky old woman,
but after sitting in extreme heat and humidity all day long, kayaking for three hours, jumping off the boat and swimming - well, at that point I just wanted some decent sleep.
What I got was naked Kiwis
jumping off the boat until the wee hours, drunken Aussie girls screaming and playing horrible thump-thump-thump house music on the boat stereo system, and not a single wink of sleep my first night in one of the most gorgeous places on earth.
None of this can take away from the sheer beauty
of Ha Long Bay. Think emerald-green waters, bright clear blue sky, gorgeous rock formations covered in foliage, and you'll start to get the idea.
We started the tour with a three-hour
bus ride from Hanoi, then embarked on a three-story junk boat to tour the bay.
The best part of it was when we paired off into two-man kayaks
to get up-close and personal with the karsts. If you've ever been kayaking before, then you know that after a few minutes the burn in your arms goes away, and you can enjoy things on a much more intimate level. It feels like you are actually in
the water, you can maneuver right up next to the rock formations, and in some cases even pass right under and through them, as many are hollowed out with lagoons in the middle.
I will probably say that kayaking Ha Long Bay was one of the highlights of my very eventful life.
Our destination for kayaking was a cave in one of the karsts. We got out of the boats and squeezed our way as best we could through the tunnels, and emerged into a hidden lagoon.
That was one of many surreal moments.
The bay is actually enormous, containing thousands of these little islets, and while they all look the same now on my camera, the scenery was actually quite
Back on the boat we watched a lovely sunset and then tried to chill out under the stars on the top deck of the boat.
That was until the youngsters came up from the parlor drinking games and starting jumping naked off the boat. I won't say it wasn't entertaining (for about 10 minutes), but there can be too much of a good thing.
SO, if you're looking for a good tour to Ha Long Bay where you can drink and party and be obnoxious all night long, this is the one for you. If, on the other hand, you want to enjoy your surroundings in anything like tranquility, then I suggest you look elsewhere.
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