When Jack Bauer takes a holiday: Minibus-boat-lunch-cave-kayaking-hike-swim-dinner-beer-bed-pack-breakfast-relax-minibus!
Nice early start at the Little Hanoi 2 with a 4 hour bus journey broken up with a convenient wee stop at a pottery place on the way! Oh yes and a cup of tea infused with condensed milk! Sweet!!! At this point we met Nicola and Jeremy, a New Zealand couple who are traveling for 3 months on their way back to Kiwi-Land having lived in London for 5 years.
Hurray the sun was finally shining and it was a beautiful day. We arrived in Halong bay at 12pm to board the boat that was to be our home for the next 24 hours (start the clock). Sun still shining burny hotness! Up to the top deck for some long awaited sunshine to absorb the magestic limestone islands. Mmmmmm peaceful.
14 people on a boat happy to take in the views and relax when came...
Helooo everyone, lunch downstairs now lets go!
Can I stay on the b...?
A great lunch of seafood, meat, rice, salad and lots of it. Back to the top deck for views and relaxation uhhhhh peaceful, when...
Everybody, 5 minutes. Caves. Meet at the front of the boat.
But I just want to...
Every stalactite and stalagmite in this cave was purposefully sculpted by the Almighty to resemble something meaningful to the locals. The following pictures require a little imagination, don't worry if you can't see the image I've labelled them for your convenience.
Really? Oh yes this is no joke! However the views were very nice from the top.
After the cave we were marched back on the boat up to the top deck for views, relaxation and burney hot sunniness when...
Everybody 5 minutes you must now kayak.
That's ok, I'm happy to stay on the boat, but thanks all the same...
Stay in view, visit that cave over there and be back on the boat in 45 minutes.
Ok so I didn't take the camera as there was nothing new to see that we couldn't see from the boat deck and in the cave there was a man brushing his teeth. After splashing Monkey-Steve with my paddle and making him Chauffeur me around like I was “The Queen” we retreated back to the boat a bit early to catch the views, relaxation and burney hot sunniness when.... Aaahhhhh peaceful!
Everybody 5 minutes you must now swim.
Now look here, I just want to stay on the b...
Within 5 minutes of leaving the kayaking area we arrived at the area for degnated swimming and a short climb to a lookout point. Naturally the lookout point was a brisk affair to get a bit of exercise before eating again and then the swim was welcomed as a cool down. It was only after being in the water for 40 minutes that we realised that the water was very polluted (we assume from the many many tourist boats visiting the bay). When leaving the water we all had a greasy residue covering our skin, apart from Monkey-Steve, he looked the same.
A very welcomed shower and the collection of a few beers on route to the top deck for sunset.
Dinner was a very similar affair to Lunch and very tasty at that. Nicola, Jeremy, Steve and I chatted and drank beer and woke the crew up to get more beer on more than 1 occasion. We did become concerned over the bin in our bathroom...
Strangely this was only after consuming a number of beers and thus repeated visits to the facilities. I still think it looks like a Moomin.
At around 11.30pm having been the only people on the deck since 8pm and the only ones awake since 9.30pm we decided to hit the sack. Only because the boatman decided to lock the fridge containing all the beer and sleep right in front of it.
The next day we started early as we had to check out of our rooms. The boat made haste to drop the people at the island that had opted to stay an extra night (something that we decided not to do and were glad that we hadn't when we heard the not so great reviews). This was a great day - finally left to our own devices to relax on the top deck, soak up the sun and enjoy the views of those magestic limestone islands before heading back to the port for lunch and the bus back to Hanoi.
The sun was still shining when we returned to Hanoi but no time to enjoy, we were headed straight for the sleeper train to take us to Hue, 13 hours south of Hanoi.