I have just got back to Hanoi from my 3 day boat trip around Halong bay. Talk about saving the best place to last - Halong bar was beautiful and by far my favourite place in Vietnam.
After a 3 hour bus journey to Halong bay we boarded the boat and sailed for the rest of the day around Halong bay taking in the views of the countless islands. The bay was apparently created by a dragon that used to live in the area and the island were created by its tail whilst flying low in the area.
We went to a cave in the bay called Sung Sot. we then went kayaking for an hour around the island, and the weather was amazingly hot and the sky was blue - could not have planned it better really!
We then had some food and did a lot of swimming. The boat was probably about 7 metres tall and we decided to jumpt from the top, which was bigger than i thought. In the area there were lots of local sales women in boats selling everything a corner shop would sell in the UK. We thought it would be a great opportunity to jump from the boat, swim to the "floating supermarkets" and buy a beer and drink the beer in the bay next to the boat.
I am saying we here a lot as i was joined mainly by two Americans and three French people so it was a very continental boat as i was the only English person for a change. This gave me lots of opportunities to practice some French which was kinda good fun actually (i have forgotten so much).
In the evening of the first night, we all drank quiet a few beers (not like me is it??) and we started with the karaoke - we had Vietnamese, French and I led from the front on the English side with some classic songs such as "living on a prayer", "its a kind of magic" and "hey jude".
After limited hours sleep on the boat we got up the next day and cruised around the bay for an hour or so and got plenty of Sun on the top deck. We then transfered to a smaller boat and went through to Cat Ba island where we went biking across the island and climbed to the highest point on the island to take in Halong bay from a higher point - well worth the sweat!
We then found our own private beach and had a good couple of hours for swimming and sun bathing before heading to Monkey island to see the local monkeys. I was taking a picture of the Alpha male monkey at one point and i had to run about 50 metres as i got chased by three monkeys - quiet funny really. I am glad i got the rabies jab now as it might have come in handy!
That night we stayed on Cat Ba island in a posh hotel with a sea view which was cool and we all headed to a bar for some beers and met up with some more americans and ended up playing dancefloor olympics and a little more karaoke.
This morning was a leisurely return to Halong city, enjoying the sun once more (although a little windier today - i heard there may be another Typhoon coming soon) and after a 3 hour bus journey we arrived back in Hanoi.
I randomly met an English teacher in Hanoi the other day before i went to Sapa and Halong bay and I volunteered to go in and help with an evening English class tonight. It was nice to give something back after being a tourist for a month. The students there were of varying ages from the local rural areas and they pretty much bombarded me with questions for two hours. At the end of the lesson the teacher (Nguyen) bought me some Pho (noodle soup) and a beer to say thank you which was nice, she even offered me a job if i wanted it - so watch out KPMG!
Unfortunately that is the end of my vietnam experience, and it has gone so quickly but i have done so much and enjoyed every place i have been in the country. I admire the laidback they all have and i would love to come back one day - especially halong bay.
However the adventure is not over yet with Thailand being the next port of call tomorrow morning.