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Published: November 24th 2011
Vietnam - Ha Long Bay - Mind blowing beauty, enough about me the trip was pretty good too!
After a couple of hours trawling the tourist offices in Hanoi we finally settled on a 4* two night boat trip in Ha Long Bay. The choices on offer simply overwhelm you, there are so many tour operators all offering differing packages with prices all over the place and rumours of each others tours being nutritious for bad quality or being a rip off. We spoke to a multitude of people who basically said it seemed to be luck of the draw in relation to the quality of the tour, basically translated it meant good luck with your selection, great, I was not confident with my track record to date!
In the end we opted for a tour from our hotel for peace of mind because we were staying there on our return and felt it left us with some room for complaints if required. I know this sounds negative from the outset but some of the stories you hear are shocking so it's best to be cautious.
OK tour selected, price negotiated and we set off on a three
hour journey to HaLong city to board our trusty fessel Imperial. Please let her be a good ship! With Brads case packed full of beer and mine packed full of dirty clothes we were in business, let the cruise begin.
Initially at the port it was over run with tourists and boats and feels less like a natural wonder and more like a queue for a ride on nemesis. Thankfully once on board we are relieved to see our boat was very nice and after a couple of hours cruising you glimpse your first sights of the bay complete with so many towering outcrops of the most beautiful islands, mountains and rocks, complete with lush green coverings. It was mind blowing and left me with a feeling of being in a dream, it took my breath away.
During the trip we visited a couple of caves, got to kayak and swim within the bay, went on a bike ride to a minority village and stayed one night in a beach hut on monkey island. The island was very disappointing and certainly didn't have any monkeys on it and the accommodation was more like 1* than 4*, for those
reading this for info on tours take the extra night on the boat and miss out the stop on the island, it's meant to be far better.
The final cruise back on the last day was my highlight, there were a lot less boats on the water leaving you with a feeling at times like you could be the only boat out there seeing this truly magnificent sight. For anyone in or around Hanoi you have to go to Ha Long Bay, you will not be disappointed.
Over all the cruise was a mix of mainly highs, but some lows, thankfully the lows such as the beach huts were soon forgotten because the lasting memory is one of splendour and and bewilderment of such natural beauty.
The cruise finished with a spring roll cooking lesson and lunch, before our journey back to Hanoi. Leaving perfect bliss and back to the madness : (
Once back in Hanoi it was Brads final night, so it seemed fitting to have a couple more beers and call it a night discussing the many comedy moments of the week gone by.
Great times with a great friend, its been
a brilliant week hanging out with a friend from back home and sharing a very special experience. Cheers from coming over Cyclo and i hope being back at work didn't hit to hard.
For me it's time to say goodbye to Hanoi and head North/West for the mountains of Sapa for some trekking. Until the next undate, yours truly Moto-bike
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