[Sorry for the long silence… massive computer failure… all good now. Mike]
We went to Halong Bay a little while ago. I really liked it, so I am writing this blog post about it.
We got picked up at our hotel in Hanoi at around 9am. After we got picked up, we headed for the karst mountain coast of Vietnam. It was a bumpy 4 hour ride. When we got there, we had to wait a little while till our water taxi came. When it came, we loaded our bags on it, got on, and waited for it to take us to our bigger boat.
Our bigger boat was a little way offshore waiting for us. When we got to it, it is was very pretty and just the right size. The boat was white and had a sun deck on top. We got two separate rooms: girls in one, boys in the other. They were small rooms. That was ok with us though. We didn’t spend a lot of time in our rooms.
After the boat started toward Halong Bay, we ate lunch. Our meals were huge! There were about 6 big plates for each table and there were a max of 6 people at each table. All the food we had on board was local, fresh, full of seafood and amazingly good.
After we finished eating, we got off the boat onto a smaller boat and set off to a floating village. Once we got to the floating village, we went kayaking. We went in and around the village. Just outside the village there was a cave that we got to go through. I think it was really cool.
In the floating village, everyone lives on the water. They even have a school on the water… it only goes up a couple grades though. The thing that’s sad is that next year the government is going to take out all the fishing and floating villages. The government’s excuse is that they want Halong Bay to look more natural. I don’t think that this is true. The fishing and floating villages make the place look more natural. With out them, I think it would look a lot less authentic.
On our second day in Halong Bay we had breakfast and got on a smaller boat to explore the rest of the islands. On the boat we met a group of 20 people that were traveling for 6 months across land from the U.K. to Australia. I thought it was really cool and unique. I have never heard of anyone doing that before. I never thought there would be a group of travellers that had never met before, doing a trip in close quarters for such a long period of time.
Once we met everyone we started off to another floating village where we went kayaking again. Here we went through several caves and bays. It was really cool. Every cave we went through led to a different bay. All of them were different and amazing in their own way. For example the last bay we visited had tons of tiny fish where the other bays didn’t have nearly as many. The last cave we went through was very small. I liked it because it was really challenging to paddle through. After we got through all the caves and looked around all the lakes we headed back to the boat.
After lunch we got to jump off the boat! I was so happy.I have been having big problems trying to find anywhere to practice my diving. I had not dived since we left Vancouver and was dying to do it. I did a front fall in off the second story and a back fall in off the first. I love jumping in the ocean because it doesn’t hurt a lot when you jump off wrong. I found the diving very fun and exciting.
After diving we headed to a pearl farm. The pearl farm was very interesting because it showed how they make different types of pearls. I had no idea there was so much work put into a pearl! The steps took a long time and not very many turned into pearls.
The first thing you do is let the oyster grow for a bit (about 1 month). Then after a month you open the oyster and make a cut (Ouch!). You put a small piece of shell in the cut and put it back in the water. Then you wait for a long time. Every month you take the oyster out of the water and scrape off all barnacles on the oysters. They do it to keep the oysters healthy.. Only about 2 out of 10 oysters have pearls that are good enough to sell.
Swimming and Dinner
Afterwards we went to swim at a few beaches. After each beach we finished we went to another then another. After we finished all the beaches schedules we headed back to our bigger ship and had dinner. At dinner we had the same amount of dishes. The part of the meal I enjoyed the most was the spring rolls. These spring rolls are found almost anywhere in Vietnam, that not what made them special though. The part of them that made them special was that they were put on sticks. Stuck them in a pineapple that had some squares punched out of them. To put the finishing touch on they put a candle in the middle of the pineapple and lit it. I thought it was the most unique meal I’ve had so far. After dinner we had deafening karaoke that they turned up as loud as they could and had some really bad singers. We got too much of the karaoke went to sleep.
The next day we had breakfast which was very good just like the other meals. We went back to the main land early in the morning. When we got to shore we took the 4 hour bus ride back to Hanoi.
That was the end of our wonderful time in Halong Bay.