25th July 2012
Today we are heading to Halong Bay. This morning we wake at 07:00, have breakfast and are due to leave for a 4 hour coach trip to Bai Chay port where we hope to board our private Junk and spend the day cruising around Halong Bay. We are told that the cruise on the Junk will be dependant on the weather as there are heavy storms heading into north Vietnam at the moment. We leave the hotel leaving our main bags behind and carrying just what we need for one night. We board the bus and looks like I didn't learn my lesson from my trip in Lao as I take the back seat and this time there is no sweet Canadian girl to land on top of when I get catapulted off my seat.
As we head out of the city the landscape changes to lush green paddy fields with clumps of banana trees dotted around. The paddy field stretch as far as you can see in most places, with people working in them ankle deep in water, most wearing the traditional Chinese pointed hats. The houses in the small towns that we pass are anything from small shacks built from corrugated iron to tall four storey houses paint bright colours and ornate decorations on the outside.
We arrive at the harbour which packed with tour boats. We are shown onto a small outboard and head off to board our Junk which will be our home for the next 24hrs. The Junk is well equipped the rooms have air conditioning and en suite bathrooms, there is a bar (sorted) and a dinning area as well as a sun deck (not that we are likely to see much of that). The Junk sets off and before long my breath is taken away by the sight of the sandstone islands towering up out of the see. The have a rugged almost untouched beauty covered in lush green foliage. The only thing that spoils this almost prehistoric landscape is, us I hate to say. The area is packed with tourist Junks like ours. I can only imagine how even more amazing this place must have been before the tourists took over. We sail around the bay for a while before dropping anchor so we can all jump in the outboard to visit some caves. The caves are hot and clammy and before long we are all sweating buckets. Once we leave it's back to our floating hotel and beer o'clock for me. Some of the group head off kayaking and others opt for a swim, I opt for a nice cold beer with my iPod and soaking up the scenery, it truly is paradise.
19:00 and it's dinner time and once again the food is truly amazing, fresh crab, king prawns and a whole selection of sea food and other dishes. This is some of the best sea food I have ever eaten. We finish dinner and all sit out on deck chatting for a while and by 22:00 we are all shattered and ready for bed.