(Day 338 to 341)
25.10.2010 - 28.10.2010 26 °C
Whilst Sapa was the visit Martin had been waiting for in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay was mine. I had tried really hard to lower my expectations to avoid disappointment but I shouldn’t have bothered: Even with mist over the bay it was an unforgettable sight!
We took a minivan from Hanoi (about 3 and a half hours) to Ha Long City and from there boarded the “Junk” which would be home for one of our 2 nights there. We set out to the UNESCO site at around one o’clock and enjoyed our copious lunch whilst sailing into Ha Long Bay, the “Bay of Descending Dragons”. Absolutely stunning. The various limestone formations jut out from the water and look almost eerie on this first day with the mist and cold white white sky behind it. That afternoon we visited a cave on one of the many islands and went kayaking in the bay, after which there was some jumping into the sea from the top of the boat! We had a lovely chilled evening with French couple Sonia and Sebastien, just chatting on the boat’s deck. Our boat was a small one so the only other participants were a Singaporean family and an older British couple who folded early.
The next day was a bit of a mess as the lot of us had booked different itineraries, so all got shipped off to join different boats and meet new people. Once that was completed and we had been on one boat, then another. We found ourselves with some friendly Aussies from Canberra, Gillian and Matthew, and a Dutch couple. The activity for this day was to go cycling on Cat Ba island to a nearby (unimpressive) village, followed by another gigantic lunch then a possible swim which everyone turned down as the weather was still chilly.
The afternoon visit was therefore a visit to Monkey island (instead of the swim time) which proved to be more eventful than planned! I didn’t actually go ashore as I was in the middle of a nasty cold and didn’t want to be in the cold wind, this turned out to be a good decision.. The group got attacked by the vicious monkeys! They apparently went straight for them in a matter of seconds, one jumped on Gillian’s back and the other one BIT the Dutch guy!! A scramble down the hill ensued to avoid more casualties and the boat was promptly called back to get them. The Dutch guy lived to see another day. We ended our day in Cat Ba island (the other side) where we stayed in a hotel – the boat would have been nicer!
On our last day, after being taken to yet another new boat, we were graced with a beautiful blue sky and sunshine for our sail back to Ha Long City.