Halong Bay, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Vietnam

Introduction to Another UNESCO World Heritage Site (Hanoi -> Halong Bay Transfer Day)

This was a transfer day that didn’t involve a plane, which is a nice change to waiting at an airport and dealing with delays, etc. Cars are less stressful if you follow one simple rule: don’t watch the driving/traffic. The car was on time and there were six of us going to Halong Bay — a Canadian couple and a couple from Barcelona. This would be quite the international cruise! But before we talk about the boat, how was the traffic getting to Halong Bay? Oh, about as you’d expect

We drove for two hours, then had a rest stop at this touristy place where people with disabilities did handicrafts, then continued our journey to the Paloma office which was another two hours. We had chosen Paloma based on recommendations from Ms. Cham. They served us coffee/tea while we waited for everyone to arrive, then we walked to the pier and into a little bit of chaos. There are a lot of boats in Halong Bay.

These islands are amazing.

img_20171114_1520294735565372530160391.jpgThey had us go to our rooms first and put any valuables in the safe. Our room was called a family room (the only size room available with a private deck) and had a double bed and a single bed. The room was OK. Nothing great, but it would do. Oddly, the shower was pretty nice (except for the very low water pressure). I’m not sure if the room was worth the price paid. Maybe for the deck…

img_20171114_132109-17051714686184918528.jpgOnce we had gotten our things put away we went back to the dining room for lunch. I will say all of the food on the cruise was quite tasty. We sat by a young, nice Brazilian couple who were there for one night and we were there for two.

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Our main activity of the day was to go to the Thien Canh Son Cave. As with all activities, you get on a smaller tender or day boat to get to the destination. As soon as we got there and I saw what was in store, I wondered if I could do it or not. The were 80 or 90 stairs to the entrance. The number of stairs wasn’t a big deal, but the condition of them was difficult for me thanks to the fear of heights thing. They were quite steep in places, and the ‘hand rail’ consisted of a loose-ish rope.

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Before this activity I asked if flip flops were OK and was assured they were perfect. Perfect for breaking your neck, maybe. Ha.

20171114154541_img_23636077540946946377197.jpgThank goodness for Sal. I held on to his shoulder and he went first and it really helped a lot. I am glad I didn’t wimp out, because this is what we saw:

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I’m thinking, “crap… I still need to get down from here”

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20171114155638_img_23874629619942776608809.jpgThere were nice views from the top, too.

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20171114160321_img_23898291778607177717829.jpgThese islands are absolutely gorgeous. I think these islands are to Vietnam what Alaska is to America. After we got back to the main boat they offered kayaking, but we declined. The weather was sort of windy and it looked a little choppy and cold. We relaxed for a bit on the balcony, then headed upstairs for the sunset party. 

img_20171114_1732038579446416810269833.jpgWe had some happy hour g&ts and met some Americans and an Australian woman. One of the American couples, from Seattle, were also there for two nights. The other two people live in Saigon now and were only there for one night, which was a shame because they were really nice and interesting to talk to. It was fun to be surrounded by twinkling boats.

img_20171114_1749183102172889435955436.jpgDinner was again with the Brazilan’s — it seemed like once you were at a table you stayed there. It was yummy! It was a long day, so we went to bed early, thinking we’d get a good night’s sleep. Suckers.

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