Well, for now.
It was, without a doubt, a must-see place for me. It’s somewhere I had researched and researched. I had looked at hundreds of pictures, read hundreds of blogs, I’d even dreamt about the place. So, when I visited, it felt extra special.
Tuesday 5th June 2012
After breakfast in Hanoi, we joined a coach full of others and set off for Halong Bay. Unable to sit next to each other, I spent the journey sleeping and listening to the Regina Spektor album I had just downloaded. Now, every time I listen to that album, I relive the excitement of that journey.
Following a brief stop, we arrived at the port. We were offered a strange looking (and strange tasting tea) and settled down to play cards for about twenty minutes.
Later, on the boat, we were treated to an amazing buffet lunch. Not one for seafood, I accepted that I’d have to be experimental and made a conscious effort to try everything.
After lunch, we were taken to a fishing village in a very rickety and unstable boat. At first, I contemplated staying behind – the boats looked unsafe and I’m not particularly confident in water. But, after a bit of coercing, I agreed to go. And I’m so glad that I did.
It was amazing to see such a unique way of living. We visited their school and were told about their lives. We could see children playing in the water and dogs relaxing in the floating houses. It was so far from life here in London.
Later that afternoon, we went for a brief swim in the sea, followed by a quick meal and an amazing, relaxing and well-deserved night’s sleep.
Wednesday 6th June 2012
We spent the morning on a completely deserted beach. I know it’s a bit of a cliche to refer to beaches as ‘paradise’ but I really think that this deserved it!
We then attempted to climb to the top to the island but, being in flip flops, the walk was a bit tricky. Eventually we made it and I thought that the hard work was over. Turns out, going down a hill in flips flops is much harder than going up! After slipping past a few feet of rocks, I slid the last ten steepest meters on my bum.
After kayaking – which I had never tried before and was absolutely terrified of doing – we had a gigantic lunch before spending the afternoon drifting through Halong Bay, reading our books and taking photographs.
Thursday 7th June
On our final day at Halong Bay, we visited the ‘Surprise Cave’. For some reason, I decided to wear my prescription sunglasses. So, inside the cave, I had two options: 1) take off the glasses and be unable to see because of my poor visions or 2) keep the glasses but be unable to see because they made everything so dark.
After one final meal, we headed back to the port and began our journey back to Hanoi.