Halong in Vietnamese means ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’… and thats exactly what we did.
On our second morning in Vietnam, we left our VERY comfortable hotel in Hanoi to drive 2/3 hours to Halong in order to board ‘Auca 2’. Mr French (what my brother and I nicknamed our strange, perhaps perverted captain) informed us that the monsoonal rains were going to end over the next few days and our three day cruise was going to be “millions of fun”.
It was decided in that first hour that we would be doing a lot of sleeping and eating on that boat.
WE WERE SO WRONG…
The weather cleared and over the next three days, my dad, brother and I descended into the crystal waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and really did have ‘millions of fun’.
Turns out Mr French was actually alright. Tai Chi began on the top deck at 7 and Breakfast was at around 8 every day consisting of dragons calved out of the FRESHEST of the freshest fruit, followed by PHO! (which makes for a very very happy clompch). By 10, the days activities had began and included Kayaking, Caving, Bicycle Riding on Cat Ba Island (another post on that to come), Cooking Classes, Squid Fishing, Bamboo Boat rides (through a floating fishing village which was j’amazing), Swims and Walks. Happy Hour, which dad and James waited for every day, began at 5, followed by dinner and MUCH DESERVED bedtime.
I HIGHLY recommend going on one of these cruises if you go to Vietnam. I would never be one to choose to go on a cruise but Halong Bay is definitely best seen by boat and there are so many to choose from which are all very luxurious and the crew are all SWEETHEARTS.. the food is amazing, the rooms are SO comfortable, the views are incredible and the spa is also quite nice…
One of my favourite things to do was take a bamboo boat around the fishing village. These people live in floating shacks with an hour of electricity every day. In a medical emergency it takes 20 minutes in a high speed jet boat to the nearest hospital. The children all attend the same school (another floating shack) and the villagers live off the fish they catch, the produce from Cat Ba Island and the vegetables home grown in foam boxes out the back of some homes. However these are the happiest people I have EVER come across. With zero exposure to things such as social media and hollywood, children look forward to going to school, growing up and earning an income by rowing fat tourists around their home town in a bamboo boat. Its so inspiring to see people living this way and it should be more encouraged for teenagers to visit these places and take a leaf out of these BEAUTIFUL people’s books. Not to mention, despite telling my dad he has a ‘buddha belly’ and that he is ‘like buddha man’ numerous times, these people are all so kind and grateful for everything they have.