Yesterday morning we woke up bright and early to head to the Kangaroo Cafe to meet for our Halong Bay tour. We boarded the bus with about 15 others to head out on our 4 hour drive to Halong. Once we arrived in Halong our tour guide, Tun, informed us that because of incoming bad weather, the government was warning guides that there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to stay overnight in the bay like originally planned. We would have to alter our itinerary and come back to Hanoi after a day instead of 2 days, 1 night. We all were hoping and praying that this wouldn’t happen so we could stay in the bay and get the full experience.
We boarded the boat, checked-in to our cute little cabins and headed out to the bay where we had lunch en route. Our lunch consisted of a variety of different seafood plates, which wasn’t great, but wasn’t bad either. After lunch we arrived at a set of caves in the bay that you can go into and explore. The downfall of our altered itinerary was that we were supposed to do this at 8am on day two, as oppose to mid-day when every other tour group was doing it. Although there was a lot of people, it was still cool to see. The caves are huge and fascinating. They almost look like a movie set and not real and natural.
After the caves, we got back on the boat and set out to an area where you could swim at a beach, and/or climb 400 steps to a lookout to see the panoramic view of Halong Bay. We decided to head up to the lookout first. It was exhausting climbing up but definitely worth the view. It was freezing and windy the whole time for the most part, with the sun only peaking out occasionally, which made for a chilly day in the bay. At around 3pm, our guide received the news that we could stay overnight in the bay after all, hallelujah! So we headed over to where we would be anchoring for the night within the bay amongst several other boats. It was really cool to see all the boats lit up in the bay at night.
We then determined it was happy hour on our boat. Buy 2 cocktails, get 1 free. We thought this would be a great idea, but little did we know that our boat did NOT make very good cocktails. They tasted like they had half a bottle of liquor in them, and were pretty unbearable, but hey, it was an experience!
After chilling out, chocking down our cocktails, and listening to our guide tell us funny stories about tourists that he’s met along his days as a guide, we headed in our little dining area for dinner. We even had cake because it was a ladies birthday on the boat!
Once we were finished dinner we hung out with others on our boat and then decided to attempt to squid fish off the back of our boat with some other tourists from Australia. We clearly weren’t very good at it because we caught none, but we did see a few fish, and a crab while we were freezing our butts off!
This morning we had to be up at 7am for breakfast, then we headed over to do kayaking (which no one did because it was freezing), instead we all loaded on to a row boat and a driver brought us around the caves. We even saw some yellow monkeys playing!
We ended up having to head back early because of the wind and weather again. So we had lunch on land in the harbour then headed out for our 4 hour drive back. Halong Bay was absolutely stunning. It’s really hard to explain it, or even capture it in a photograph, because a picture(no matter how good of a photographer you are) will not do it justice.
When we arrived into Hanoi, we came back to our hostel to warm ourselves up a bit and then on the way to the weekend night market we stopped for bun bo nam bo again at the restaurant down the street from us because it was so good on our first night! The night market was chaos like the rest of Hanoi, and sadly we didn’t buy much. This market isn’t only catered at tourists but also locals. There was a whole lot of junk, and basically every stereotypical thing you could think of when you think of Asia. It was cool to see, but we didn’t end up buying anything exciting. We did end up trying a variety of street food such as meat sticks and baked goods en route which were delicious!
Tonight we are heading to bed at a decent time after a long day! Tomorrow late afternoon we fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia.