Halong Bay

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July 21st 2018
Published: July 23rd 2018
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It took me awhile to decide what to do about Halong Bay, since I was half-dreading even approaching a tour agency about embarking on the spectacle.

I'd heard some horror stories from other travelers, about seeing hundreds of other boats alongside yours, rats on boats, terrible food, and all manner of bait-and-switch scams.

So I splurged and went with a luxury boat that follows a seldom-visited route, embarking from Haiphong and exploring La Han Bay, away from the hordes in Halong Bay.

But the typhoon continued, so I didn't soak it up on the sun deck, and I couldn't get any wonderful photos that everyone is there for.

I did swim and kayak in the Gulf of Tonkin without incident, though. It was really peaceful - I just tried not to notice all the garbage in the sea.

As I feared, "the program," as the guide referred to it, could not be altered. Nobody really wants to drink, but now is drinking time. It's pouring, but now is swimming time. There are no squid this time of year, but now is squid fishing time. No one wants to wake up at 6AM, but now is Tai Chi time. You could skip anything you didn't want to do, and my cabin was comfortable, so it was still relaxing and a pleasure to spend a night out on the water on the far side of Cat Ba Island.

The weather was a shame, but it's a flip of a coin during the rainy season. I just can't help to think that this is another place I should have visited 10-15 years ago.

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