Edit Blog Post
Published: October 1st 2016
Floating fishing village complete with school and community house.
We left Hanoi at 8.00am on the 28 September by van for Halong Bay. There were two other couples in the van heading our way. Four hours of exposure to Vietnam's open road traffic culture. Not to be missed. Also not for the faint hearted. Centre lines are a rough guide and passing distances a judgement on how close you can get before pulling in off the oncoming traffic lane. No accidents though, just a few white knuckles and clenched jaws.
Halong Bay setting off point is a wharf of tour boats tied up and, at this time of the year, mainly empty. We were on a Bhaya Cruise line boat and once on board found ourselves with only two other couples; Wayne and Jane from Blenheim (he a police detective and she a primary school teacher) and Mike and Kim from Los Angeles (accountant and filmmaker respectively). We all got on well from the get go although I felt a bit sorry for Mike and Kim being on a boat with people who were a minimum 20 years older than them (and that wasn't us). The boat slept a total of four couples so we had plenty of room
A hazy sunset.
on board. Our cabin was spacious with a big bathroom and a private, rail-side balcony to sit at. Our guide on board was Son, a 26 year old single man with a girlfriend who also worked on the cruise boats. He was a real character, full of mischief but also a "bossy britches" who made sure we were where we were supposed to be on the minute. Not really bossy - just an abrupt manner which was part of his character and also a factor of his English language, I think, when he was playing his official role. We grew to like it because it was so predictable. Needless to say he thought Lyn was "beautiful".
Halong Bay is spectacularly scenic in a very majestic and almost supernatural way. The karst land-forms rise up grandly from the sea floor and stand like sentinels as far as the eye can see. They look like sentries on constant alert. Maybe for Chinese invaders? For mythical dragons? Legend has it that Halong Bay was created by a descending dragon whose lashing tail carved out the islands littering the place. Hataitai, in Wellington has a similar legend about Whataitai writhing it's way from
On board the Bhaya legend - happy hour begins at dusk.
the Hutt Valley towards Evans Bay and creating Wellington Harbour. (You didn't know that did you!).
I can't say too much about the grand beauty of Halong Bay. Go there or look at pictures. We were told that there is a plan afoot by the government to restrict boats in Halong Bay to day trips only, to take effect in a few years time. If true it will spoil the great experience and pleasure tourists like us have had of staying on the boat overnight anchored in the lee of one of the scores of islands and waking up to the peace and beauty of the place.
It was the low season but even then there were dozens of boats out in the World Heritage Park doing what we were. It didn't lessen the experience for us but we were pleased we weren't in the high season. Over the three days, two nights we sailed to a number of the best known sights and were able to do tai chi on deck each morning at 6.30, kayak, swim, search for rare monkeys, explore a massive cavern extending for kilometres into the bowels of one of the islands, visit
Pre-breakfast tai chi on the MV Bhaya Legend.
a floating fishing village and a floating oyster pearl farm and stop at a beach and swim with many other "sailors" off other boats. Along the way we were dined and wined on board with happy hours and three course meals, attentive service and comfortable on-deck lounging areas. It was memorable and worth the time and money. Lyn and I both felt glad we were on a small boat with only a few others as we don't think sharing a vessel with 30 or so, as many other boats cater for, is really our thing. The space on board with just the six of us meant one could always find peace and quiet to sit in contemplation of one's navel or, perhaps, the horizon - at times that was just what we wanted during the three days.
Docking back at the base meant another 4 hour drive back to Hanoi where we had a few hours to kill before hopping on Vietnam Airlines flight 175 to Da Nang. We spent the few hours wandering some more of the old town streets and enjoying the chaotic traffic, crowds, street vendors, tourists, smells and Hanoi's general sense of old meets new.
MV Bhaya Legend - room to move.
Out at Noi Boi airport our flight was on time and we had a smooth one hour hop south to Da Nang with a 40 minute transfer by car to our hotel in Hoi An. We checked in at 10.00pm and that was that for the day - bed.
Tot: 1.876s; Tpl: 0.077s; cc: 13; qc: 63; dbt: 0.036s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb