Vietnam: Halong Bay

We got picked up at 7.45 for our trip to Halong bay. We were a little delayed as our driver had been stopped by the police (still no idea why) but before long we were away. The family sharing the transfer with us were from Newcastle so I could bond with them about the city I love so much. It took a few hours to get to Halong but it was okay as the weather was a little cloudy in the morning but had started to burn through by the time we arrived.

When you get to the area where the boats are taken you can only see a little bit of Halong in the distance which was excellent as it didn’t give the magnificence of the scenery away too much. We had to boat to ourselves for about half an hour as the other bus of people had been delayed. It was gloriously peaceful- we sat on sun loungers overlooking other boats preparing for their day at sea.

Our cabin was really awesome with traditional wood panelling and a big window overlooking the water. I was really impressed that such a lovely cabin could be housed on a boat that seemed so small.
We were soon joined by a few families of Australians who were travelling together- they were all friends from their baby group but now the children they had met through were all 13. I was so impressed by the children- there were lots of them but they were really well behaved and pleasant to be around. 

We cruised out on the water whilst having an amazing lunch. The rocks seemed to envelop us, towering around at all angels. Every time I looked away the landscape seemed to rapidly change. I’m not sure I can really do the bay justice- it’s stunning, and something I really think people need to see for themselves. 

I definitely underestimated the enormity of the area. I expected a few pretty rock formations, so I was certainly unprepared for the seemingly endless string of islands. Our guide, Kim, told us that there are over 3000 islands in the area. I really didn’t expect that. 

Shortly after lunch we hopped off our boat, The Dragon’s Pearl 3, and took a smaller boat across to one of the islands where we explored a cave formation filled with stalactites and stalagmites and surrounded by beautiful views. Some of the children bumped their heads quite nastily which was a shame, but we all survived and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

We climbed aboard the Dragon’s Pearl only briefly to change our clothes before taking a kayak out onto the water. I must admit, I was a little nervous seeing as I’m not really known for my agility or dexterity, but I managed to get in the kayak without falling into the water which I thought was a small victory. 

We paddled around in a tandem boat and saw even more of the beautiful scenery- it was particularly stunning as the sun was starting to set. My stroke effected hand did cause us some trouble as my strong pull through the water on the right compared to my weak pull on the left meant that we were constantly veering off in the wrong direction so poor Matt had quite a job on his hands to compensate.

When we got back to the Dragon’s Pearl we tied up our kayaks and dived into the water. It was so warm and gorgeous after the hard work kayaking but unbelievably salty! We played around for a while, and were really interested by the fizzing sound if you put your ears under the water. I think it was probably the current but it seemed really loud! 

We swam a little further away and then realised that everyone was climbing back aboard the ship. We swam over thinking that it was just time to get changed, but actually one of the girls, Jada (who was very brave- hello if you’re reading!) had been stung by a jellyfish. She had tried to push it away but it had wrapped it’s tentacle around her arm and she was in quite a lot of pain. The staff were excellent, trying to smooth the sting with lime juice. I was amazed by how calm and collected she was, particularly seeing how sore the stings were.

We all got showered an changed and rested before another amazing meal aboard the Dragon’s Pearl, moored in a peaceful bay.