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Published: January 14th 2015
The tap, tap on our cabin door happened at 4am this morning and we were off the train at 4.30am. A taxi took us to the travel agent that we booked our Monkey Island Tour through. We sat on the cold steps of the restaurant in cold Hanoi from about 4.45am till 5.40 when a small hotel across the alley invited us to come and sit in their foyer area on their lounge. It was really nice to be able to sit inside out of the cold till 7.30 am when we decided to have a look around the block.
The nice thing about sitting outside though from 4.45am was that we got to see all the locals setting up their Pho stalls, as well as vege stalls and fresh fish being bought in on the back of motorbikes.
We were whisked away at 8.00am on the dot and picked up a further 12 or so tourists that were heading to Halong Bay. We were driven approximately 4hrs to the harbor with a pit stop along the way at a ridiculously priced shopping market that was completely aimed at tourists. We bought a few snacks to get us through
and as an example a container of Pringles cost us nearly $8 each. Nothing had prices on it!
At the harbor we were taken by our tour guide, Ken to board our boat for the night. We were greeted by boat crew with a nice hot cup of ginger and lemon tea, which went down well as the day had not gotten any warmer. We all had a good laugh as he told us the boat is 10 years old. There is no way it could only be that young, but the rooms were comfortable and we had our own balcony to our rooms.
Soon after boarding the boat we had a delicious lunch of pork, chicken, squid, rice, vege dishes as well as egg and tofu dishes for Dani.
We stopped off at an island to explore inside one of the caves open to the public in Halong Bay. It was absolutely beautiful and the pictures we have don’t really do a lot of justice.
After sailing around for a couple of hours throughout Halong Bay we dropped anchor and that was us for the night. We learnt that there are over 1900 island that
make up Halong Bay and the bay comes from a story about a descending dragon.
After dropping anchor, Dani and Zav went out kayaking. They kayaked over to a fishing village and back to the boat. It wasn’t long before shenanigans started and Stu had jumped off the top of the boat into the water. Stu was followed by Zav and some of our tour buddies, and then finally Dani jumped in after asking me to push her. After everyone (that wanted to) had jumped into the water several times they all went off and had showers to warm up before dinner.
Dinner was absolutely delicious. We started with “make your own” rice paper rolls which we filled with cucumber, carrot, pork, egg and a mix of lettuce and herbs. Then we were bought out fries, rice, fried spring rolls, tofu, a salad, stir-fried veges, pork, seafood and chicken and fruit for dessert.
We had a good chat after dinner with the people on the tour with us. We met another couple from Australia who live halfway between Sydney and Canberra, Silvan from Holland, Gerry and Dani from USA and Tom and Marsha from Russia. There were
only 12 of us all up for this tour and they normally would have 24 on the boat during busier times. It was really nice only being a small group as we were all able to talk and give a glimpse into each other’s lives.
We were in bed by 10 as we had been up really early and not had much sleep the night before.
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