I have a few days spare before I have anything planned so I decide to take advantage of the opportunity to go out to Ha Long Bay where Top Gear’s Vietnam special ended up.
The three hour journey on a cramped bus is only broken up by being sent into a tourist shopping centre for twenty minutes. Although why they thought I might want to pick up some five foot high marble statues is beyond me. I also suspect they might use up more than a fraction of my weight allowance on the remaining flights I have before returning home.
When we arrive at Ha Long City I am a tad dismayed to see how many boats are going to be heading out to the bay. There are hundreds of them so the chances of getting a secluded spot to ourselves are rather slim.
While we are ferried over to our ship by its launch, I enjoyed all the sea eagles which were in the sky and diving down to pick out some lunch from the South China Sea. There was a cosmopolitan bunch of tourists on my boat from the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Germany and the UK.
I am staggered by the quality of the room I have been allocated once we get to the boat. It is better than most of the hotels I have stayed in world wide.
there isn’t time to enjoy its luxury for long though because we are fed a banquet for lunch and I gorge myself on the vegetables on offer. All too frequently I have to make do with junk food because it is easy to source on this trip so the chance to stock up the vitamin bank is too good to miss.
The only other single person on the boat is Louisa who you see here ejoying the view of some of the two thousand islands that we are cruising eastward through on our first day.
We had sat next to one another on the bus to Ha Long City and I discovered that she hails from Sao Paulo in Brazil. The two of us got on well and spent most of the next couple of days together.
The first stop for our cruise is the Surprise Caves on one of the islands, which are huge.
Our tour guide is quite a fierce local lady and Louisa and I are quick to ditch her and the rest of the group so we can explore the caves on our own without being ranted at.
Immediately after leaving the caves we are transferred by the launch to one of the floating villages in the bay so we can be let loose on a kayak.
Despite an inexplicable tendency to veer towards the right, Louisa and I had a lot of fun finding a little beach with it’s own cave to explore. I am not fond of sitting in enclosed kayaks as a rule but really enjoyed the hour of meandering around the limestone rock formations.
Our launch collected everybody and took us to another beach towards the end of the afternoon. Not having been in the water since Japan I couldn’t resist taking a swim in the bay there.
The sun went down while I swam and I was able to get a few pictures with my GoPro all the while paying attention to the eagles circling overhead in case one of them got ambitious and though they might try and drag me out!
We were picked up and then ferried back to our boat to enjoy drinks on the top deck before another feast for dinner.
The number of boats here wasn’t a problem in the end, and as I downed a few beers I got this picture of all of their reflections at night time, shimmering in the still water. A fantastic day