A week had gone by since our adventure began in Vietnam. We spent a couple of days flying and travelling, but the majority of our time was spent in Hanoi. We saw so much, experienced even more and met some great people. However, it was time to move on. We were heading to Halong Bay by bus and exploring the bay by boat.
The bus journey took about 3-4 hours but, as I usually do, I slept for most of it. We stopped half way so we could use the toilets and so the tour operators can get some commission. This “shop” sold anything from snacks to snakes in a jar. After 20 minutes, we hopped back on the bus to finish the journey. Sat behind us were three loud and proud Australians – they were going to be a lot of fun. Out of the window we saw lots of fields and rice farms, and mountains in the distance. Also along the way we saw, the occasional village with thin but tall homes. These are built so the owners can pay less tax. Eventually we could see the ocean – that’s when we really got excited.
When we arrived, we were kind-of-corralled into a small room. I guess this was so they could finish prepping the boat. First, we got on a small boat. That took us to our big boat. Some of the boats in the harbour looked like they were falling apart, but ours did not. On the boat were tables, chairs and a bar, as well as our private, double cabins with a toilet and shower in each. On the top deck of the boat were plenty of deck chairs and table football.
After our tour guide ran us through the itinerary, we began our voyage through the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We watched as we passed caves and coves, as well as isolated homes for fishermen and their families. With thousands of towering islands, you are immediately in awe of the place. This paradise is easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The limestone islands are covered in greenery (going hand in hand with the emerald green waters), and are home to many different animals including monkeys, lizards and antelopes. I’m pretty sure I saw a pig.
We spent most of the journey admiring the view from the top deck of the boat. After a short while, we were gathered into the dining area for a large buffet. Thankfully, they didn’t just serve seafood and my vegetarian diet was well catered for. After eating our bodyweight, it was time to go kayaking. Our small boat (that is towed in tandem) took us around the corner of one of the limestone karsts where the kayaks were waiting for us.
Harmony and I grabbed a paddle each and climbed onto our kayak. We were last to get a kayak, and we were happy with what we were given, but we had some catching up to do. It wasn’t hard to be honest. People were going around in circles and one Israeli guy, Avi, was trying to climb his way into a cave. He saw what he needed to see, jumped back in the water and s