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Published: February 27th 2014
An early start as we were picked up outside hotel at 8am. Fortunately hotel breakfast hours are 6.30-9.30 so time for breakfast first which is good as like to start the day with a plateful of lovely fresh tropical fruits.
A long drive in our small 20 seater coach. 4 hours in all though we stopped for almost an hour half way along for a leg stretch at a craft showroom – which we assumed was government sponsored as we stopped at a different, but very similar one on the way back. Some very nice carvings on sale but certainly would not fit either in our cases or our weight allowance. We priced some lacquered bowls and they were 3 times what we paid for very similar in Hanoi so we didn’t buy anything.
It was mainly paddy fields on either side of the road for most of the way. Winter is only just over so the fields are very wet and muddy, not bright green as they will be in a month when the new rice shoots start to come up. There were some horrendous road works which extended for about 20 miles through a couple of towns.
The road is being widened, work started 4 to 5 years ago and it seems they have just chopped the front of anything in the way. Lots of buildings had lost all frontage and people were repairing and making good their property fronts all along the way. May be all finished in another 5 years time but in the meantime we feel sorry for the people who live along that messy road.
We arrived at Halong Bay exactly on time at 12.30pm and boarded our boat. One of lots of similar boats, all lined up waiting for coach loads like ours.
Should mention that the weather was not at all what we would have chosen for a boat trip round what is reputed to be an absolutely gorgeous bay. Don’t think a horizon was visible at all that day as the cloud was so low and everything was very grey and rather misty.
The bay is huge but don’t think, because of the visibility, we were able to appreciate the scale. The bay is filled with dramatic, towering limestone karsts, as in Krabi, Thailand. Today some of them looked quite spooky because of the mist.
We sailed between a few and then came to a fishing village, built out on the water, where we disembarked and went for a ride in a bamboo boat rowed by one of the village ladies. Had to be very careful how we moved about as the boat seemed very flimsy and that water did not look inviting for a swim. Some people from our boat had opted to kayak but it looked a bit too chilly to us for that and they did indeed get pretty wet. All very good fun.
Back on our boat we sailed on to a cave (Then Cung Grotto) which is filled with some rather spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. All beautifully lit as this is very much part of the Halong Bay tourist trail. The recommended Halong Bay trip includes an overnight stop on the water but we had not had time to fit this into our schedule so the day trip was quite good enough.
Then back to the boat again for a return to the Noi Quy and our coach home.
We got back to the hotel for 8 pm just in time for dinner. Then we had
to pack ready to move on to our next stop, Hue.
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