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Published: April 9th 2010
Day 129: Monday, April 5th, 2010.
Hanoi to Halong Bay, Vietnam (Deja Vu anyone?)
Per Intrepid Notes, "Days 11-12 Halong Bay
On the morning of day 11 we travel to Bai Chay (approx. 3 hours) by public bus, board a chartered boat and embark on an overnight cruise through majestic Halong Bay, where 2,000 limestone peaks emerge dramatically from the sea. Halong Bay has been declared a World Heritage site and is the perfect start to our journey. While on board, we have the opportunity to visit spectacular caves, crammed with stalagmites and stalactites, as well as enjoy a scrumptious seafood feast on board. In warm weather, we can swim around the boat or even to nearby beaches. Our small boat on Halong Bay is basic but comfortable with private twin-share cabins and shared bathroom facilities."
We are supposed to be picked up at 8:15 am by a private car and driven to the bus station where we'll take a public (shudder) bus to Halong Bay. It'll be a 4 hour drive. A taxi shows up at 8:15 am but the driver says we have too many bags and he can't take us. They were expecting 5 people, and
that's what they got. For some reason, they weren't expecting each of the 5 people to have 1 suitcase. Not sure why they didn't see that coming. So, Ling fights with them for about 30 minutes and she and the cab driver keep hopping on their cell phones. We try to intercede and ask why we can't just get two taxis but for some reason this isn't an option. Finally, at 9am (when our bus leaves) a minivan pulls up and we all pile in. We're driving for about 20 minutes when I ask Ling when we'll get to the bus station. She said that since the car people screwed up with our pick up they would be driving us all the way to Halong Bay. Nice! No public bus!!
We get to Halong Bay and board our ship, the Hai Au. This is a smaller ship than the previous one we were on and only holds 8 passengers and we have it to ourselves. For some reason the people at the dock wanted our passports and it took them about 40 minutes to give them back (didn't have that issue at all the first time we were here).
We had lunch (same as before) while waiting, get our passports back, and we take off. We've been driving for about 5 minutes when the captain turns off the engine and disappears to the back and we just float and drift in the outskirts of the harbor. Apparently it was time for lunch for the crew and they follow their time table no matter what. So, about 30 minutes later, he comes back and we take off. Rita has expressed a concern to me and it's once that I share but I haven't allowed myself to voice, I am not getting a good feeling about this tour. I have a feeling it's going to be the tour from hell. One that, while living it, will be torture and bring about many panic attacks, but later will provide for entertaining fodder. Life has its trade offs I guess.
It's too bad it's so foggy, Dick and Judy can't really see the amazing islands/mountains that Rita and I got to experience. They aren't interested in doing the caves nor kayaking so we dock early and we all just kind of hang around and talk. Another thing that is very different than
my first experience there is the trash. The water, that was clean looking and inviting just 4 days ago, is littered with so much trash. If it had looked like that on Friday, there is no way I would have jumped in it. I don't know if the tides brought it in or if it was a big party weekend but it was disgusting and very sad. This is a World Heritage Site and we are definitely ruining it.
So, we all just kind of hung around until dinner when we met up in the dining room and had another seafood extravaganza. Then, off to bed. The door for Rita's and my room doesn't respond to the key when locked (one of the ship guys had to go in thru the window to open it for us) so we have to keep our door unlocked. Ever since I got to Vietnam, I've been using this wire mesh that was made for Monstro and fits it like a glove. So, I just keep that on there all the time and use a lock to totally secure it. There's even a loop that I can lock around the leg of something
permanent if someone wants to run off with my bag. It's been a relief for my mind. Needless to say, while having a room that doesn't lock, it has very much been used.
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