Halong Bay for christmas!!
The three English girls (Kirsty, Vicky and Donna) were nice enough to book me onto a Halong Bay Tour for Christmas eve, Christmas day and boxing day. It was an early wake up on the 24th to make the trip to Halong Bay to catch our boat..Now we didn't pay that much compared to other people so I was expecting an awful boat that would probably sink during the night but infact it was awesome! A really nice eating area, comfy seats and rooms that were better than some of the hostels I had stayed in..really impressed and chuffed with what we paid for! With christmas hats, presents for christmas morning and alcohol we were going to be life and soul of our christmas boat!
We set sail around midday across the bay towards a maze of around 3500 islands. Everybody was on the top deck looking out at this incredible landscape going mad taking photos..I must have taken about 20 of the same picture it was that beautiful! Islands everywhere rose out of the water, it didn't look real; smooth still water below with a blue sky above..it was really nice to have good weather for a change! Other boats sailing to the bay had people doing exactly the same as us..taking photos of everything often shouting "MERRY CHRISTMAS" because of our hats! We got to the bay and got off our boat to check out a cave..wasn't really in the same league as the Paradise Cave but was a nice little trip. Next was Kayaking! So fun! Me and Kirsty just chilling in the sea trying to avoid the bigger boats, getting soaked by a big wave and racing everyone with our Ox-bridge style strokes..awesome! At this point the sun started to set, you cannot imagine how nice this was..the water, the islands in the distance and a sun that grew a deeper orange every minute as it fell below the islands..paradise! After many a photo it was time to get ready for dinner and for the christmas party! Good company, a nice atmosphere and awesome food (especially the prawns!) I had a really nice evening. The tour rep on board even provided us with some free wine; a nice idea and much appreciated as the alcohol on board was quite expensive. Bring on the party!!
I'd say the party lasted to around midnight..it was officially Christmas! After hugs and Merry Christmas people started to retreat to their rooms. Some of us thought it would be a nice idea to move to the top deck and check out the stars..really was amazing, I've never seen so many! Star gazing and trying our luck at astrology; apparently you could see Mars and a pan formation..(I was rubbish and saw everything but..and the girls attempted to point it out but I bet they couldn't see it either haha!) it was a highlight of the evening..so good!
Christmas!! I was woken up in the usual style on christmas morning (Sam!) with knocking on the door. Donna and Vicky ran in our room bearing gifts! We all decided to make Christmas special by getting eachother little presents..Since I was a late arrival I didn't expect anything much but when I opened it I found a lovely scarf! They really did go all out to find me a present; so so nice of them, I really have met some lovely people!
The boat had already started to move again heading for Ca Ba island. Here we were going to walk up a mountain to check out the sights. It was a tough climb especially in flip fliops but it was worth the effort! Incredible views and at the very top an old watch tower..rusty and with holes between the wood panels it wouldn't be my Dads favourite spot haha! For the first time I doubted my resolve to do a bungy jump in New Zealand :( I'm still going to do one though!
From here it was to our hotel on the Island and then straight to the beach! Digging a huge hole, some fun photos using my camera's self timer and playing games with sand was a great way to spend the day..! Really great fun, great company and still in the Christmas spirit wearing our christmas hats! Then back to the hotel for something to eat; here I managed to speak to my family; it was awesome to hear them especially on christmas day but it was also quite upsetting to be away from them (there's a first time for everything)...I just had to think to myself that it was a different way to spend christmas...I mean I am in Vietnam...at one of the wonders of the world! That's how I looked at it!
In the evening this was my real christmas party! I got very drunk and Kirsty and Vicky obliged in drawing all over my face..nice! It was really difficult to remove and so I was walking around all day feeling incredibly hung over with the faint outline of god knows what on my face! That's what happens when you're a lightweight! Today was just a travel day back to Hanoi so I didn't miss much in terms of sights, just feeling alittle sick for the 4 hour trip back to the capital...
Next Big night..New Years Eve!!