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Published: August 7th 2016
We started out with a 4 hour bus trip from Hanoi to Halong, a trip that would take about 1.5 hours in NZ. Halong is an interesting city with a huge ferris wheel on top of the hill overlooking the city and a cable car running across the bay. By the amount of building work going on its safe to say there are big plans for Halong.
When we arrived at the dock we were put aboard a small tender and told to put on our life jackets unless we wanted to be invited for a cup of tea in the police inspectors office. They have apparently had some horrendous accidents over the years so are at least paying lip service to safety now. The tender took us all of 50 metres to the cruise ship, the Christina, which in turn didn't go overly far, cruising around a few of the over 1900 karsts dotting Halong Bay.
The Vietnamese have a story of a war with China long ago that they were losing. In desperation they called on the gods for help. The gods sent a dragon that dropped jewels into the bay that formed the karsts. The Vietnamese
boats were able to hide amongst the karsts and ambush the Chinese thus ensuring victory. I'm not sure about the jewels bit but it certainly is a stunningly beautiful place.
The itinerary for our 2 days was pretty action packed and started the first afternoon with a visit to a floating fishing village and pearl farm but as the fisherman no longer actually live in the village but have been relocated to Halong I could have given it a miss. The late afternoon was taken up with a trip to a beach for kayaking and swimming followed by a sunset party back on board the cruise boat.
The next morning it was raining so we gave the 5.30am sunrise viewing a miss but did get up for a Tai Chi lesson at 6.30am. By the time breakfast was finished the clouds had disappeared and the day was a stunner. While the cruise boat went back to Halong to drop off the 1 day crowd and pick up another the 2 dayers, 8 of us, transferred to a smaller day boat to cruise a few shallower parts of the bay and do some more kayaking, swimming and even visited
a cave. About 3.00pm we went back aboard the main cruise boat to lounge about while the next lot of 1 day trippers were off doing their activities. The sunset that evening was nothing short of spectacular. The evening was spent chatting to the other 2 dayers, and imbibing rather more than was good for us. Suffice it to say that the only thing we had to pay for on the cruise was our drinks and the bill come to 3.5 million Dong!
It's a great trip through beautiful scenery and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone but do the 2 night cruise so you have time to enjoy it.
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