Thursday, August 23, 2012

30 July: Hanoi to Halong Bay

We were up before 7am to shower and have breakfast before our transfer to Halong Bay arrived. The Hot water in Hanoi seems pretty much non-existent, although (barely) warmer than the cold. @clairam mentioned this problem at her hotel in Hanoi in December too.

Breakfast was quite yummy. 2 eggs and some bacon (actually I think it was more like some kind of fried salami or something?) which we ate on rolls (they *love* their french bread here, it was to become a regular). I had fresh watermelon juice - which is what I pretty much lived on while in Thailand. But there they make them with crushed ice (called shakes), which is much better!

The drive to Halong Bay was uneventful but I enjoyed the scenery, although I did nod off a few times. Far more rice paddies than I saw in China. And the architecture is fascinating with all these tall skinny buildings. It made sense in Hanoi, but they seem to be built like that everywhere. Even if there is not another house near it! It's kinda surreal, actually :)

We had a half hour stop halfway to use the loo at a very touristy spot selling all sorts of things. I hate these places. We eventually reached Halong City and boarded our boat.

Travel Planning tip: We booked our Deluxe cabin on a 2day Halong Bay cruise thru Luxury Halong Cruises on one of the Indochina Sails boats. They also arranged the Visa Approval Letter required when entering Vietnam for us. As well as transfers to and from our hotel in Hanoi, at an additional fee.

Wow! Our room is *stunning*. We have floor to ceiling windows (including in the bathroom, above a jacuzzi bath - which I sadly did not get to use :( ), a balcony on the side of the boat and a huge bathroom (bath & shower!).

We had a large set-menu lunch which, although it was good, was not nearly as delish as our far simpler dinner yesterday. We finished lunch off with a Vietnamese Coffee (made with condensed milk!) on the deck :) Delish!!

After lunch we took smaller "bamboo boats" to Luon Cave (below). Very cool and we saw a few monkeys playing on the rocks too.

A little after that we headed to Titov Island to swim. I chose to skip the 425 step climb to the top view point (view below taken by The Trucker from the top of the island) and instead enjoyed a longer time in the warm salty water. Good news: I didn't get stung by a jellyfish - haha!

As The Trucker got down from the walk, a huge storm came rolling thru. We enjoyed swimming in the downpour but I don't even think the rain lasted an hour!

To say this place is spectacular is a huge understatement. It is truly beautiful and I have hardly even read my book, choosing instead just to enjoy the view, sitting on our bed.

We had a wonderfully relaxing evening. Dinner was a buffet with some quite yummy things :) I especially liked the Hanoi fresh spring rolls, a weird crab dish (baked in the crab shell) and their prawn sticks.

With dinner we enjoyed a glass of very nice red Chilean wine. We spent the rest of the night playing rummy on the top deck sipping cocktails. It was really nice (even tho he's a sore loser! Haha)

Oh, and after dinner we also tried a little squid fishing. Which was very boring because apparently the current was moving too fast. But still, it was entertaining to have given it a try for 10 minutes :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It looks stunning! And we got to see the famous coffee you got hooked on.

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