Day 19 – Hanoi to Halong Bay – Sunday March 20th 2011
We were collected by minibus at about 9am and arrived at Halong Bay around lunchtime. Frank was on a different bus, as he was sleeping on the boat overnight. We were just day-boating and then sleeping on Cat Ba island.
The most striking thing about the harbour at Ha Long is the massive amount of building work happening there. The whole place is like a building site.
The harbour is rammed with old wooden boats, waiting to take people out to the rocky islets. As is often the case, we all paid different amounts for the same trip. We paid around £20, but some people in our group paid twice that amount.
The water was calm, but visibility was really poor due to fog. We could just about make out one rocky formation at a time, before we moved on to the next one. I think we missed out on the main effect of this place.
We stopped at a pontoon, along with about a hundred other boats, where we joined a line to walk through a cave. The cave was lit by coloured lights, and felt a bit too touristy. We pretty much ran through the cave to get out the other side.
When we got going again, we got chatting to two Swedish sisters Helen and Marianne. They taught us the swedish words for body parts. This was probably my favourite. We also played a card game which asks questions and scores how Swedish you are. Nic did OK, but doesn’t watch Donald Duck on Christmas Eve so lost some serious points for that.
On Cat Ba island we found a bar and had a few beers with the Swedes. There was no heating in our hotel so I decided to drink enough that it didn’t matter. I had quite a few Bia Ha Noi’s which helped send me to sleep.