Halong Bay - 2 day trip
We were picked up at our hotel early in the morning by a bus to be taken to Halong. There we were ferried to a small ship that would take us on a two day tour through Halong Bay. The bus ride was a boring 4 hour long drive with one stop at a local (work)shop. Where all other busses also stopped and prices for food and drinks were sky high…tourist trap! We decided to walk around for a bit and found a small shop just around the corner with normal priced for drinks & snacks!
Our ship was a faily small one which looked more authentic than some of the large cruise ships that were also docked at the harbour.
Our cabin was at sea level so we had a nice view from the window. Halong Bay is a World Heritage site and features thousands of limestone Karsts each topped with thick jungle vegitation and isles in various shapes and sizes.
It has become a real touristy destination in Vietnam. For instance we were going to a ‘private island’ according to the travel plan. Very private, all the other boats went there as well and so we watched the sun set with hundreds of other tourists.
Once the sun had set we had a very lovely meal and later it was time for onboard entertainment. You could sing Karaoke or could give ‘Squid Fishing’ a try. Together with a Polish couple nearly managed to catch one! Well…maybe not so nearly but a least we had a good laugh about it. There was also a happy hour, which meant 3 for 2 cocktails. Prices of the drinks on board were pretty close to western prices though.
The next morning a most people on the ship went to a cave. We decided to stay on board because the cave would be a busy as the private island. To be honest, I think a one day trip would have been enough. Halong Bay is a great place but 2 days is too long and we both got a little bored in the end. The tour ended with Spring Roll making and a lovely lunch buffet.
Hanoi - 2.0
We had another full day to spend in Hanoi before we would hop on the night train to Hue late in the evening. The day started rather cloudy wich was great because we were going to photograph an abandoned restaurant boat on one of the lakes. To our surprise there were more than just the one boat we knew about and the fog gave the pics a nice mystical feel!
We took a Grab Cab to the other side of the lake to photograph the Tran Quoc Pagoda.
Then we walked on passed Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, visited the ‘One Pillar Pagoda’ and stopped at the War Museum. Across from the museum there was a statue of Lenin in a park.
After dinner it was time to pick up our suitcases at the hotel and head over to Hanoi’s Raiway Station to wait for the night train to arrive.
We had a private cabin for which we probably got scammed again: the conductor told us if we would pay her a certain amount -can’t remember how much- she would make sure the beds above us wouldn’t get rented out. To be honest, I didn’t mind paying a little extra because now at least we didn’t have to share the cabin with strangers.
As soon as the sun came up, I was awake and enjoyed the great scenic views gliding along!
And after a journey of 13 hours we arrived in Hue where we would spend 3 days and 2 nights.
More about Hue in Part 3 of the journey!