Vietnam (I) – Ha Long Bay

2017 started with a family holiday in Hanoi, and the highlight of the trip was definitely the 2d1n cruise on  Ha Long Bay itself. But before we got there, we had to endure a 4-hour bus trip from Hanoi to Ha Long city, before this scene greeted us. 

And apparently, the government wants to develop the city itself into some tourist centre by building a theme park, ferris wheel, cable car etc

And eventually we got on board the cruise ship. It’s a fairly small ship with a hilarious tour guide, Tommy. His English was wonderful and I half wonder if he learnt his English from watching American dramas because his humor felt very American. 

“only rich people can afford to take drugs, but they won’t be rich for long because they’ll be DEAD.”

Um okay. 

And more photos of the 3000+ limestone Islands in Ha Long Bay. 

I know, they start looking the same after a while. But I do so loooove the emerald water colour. 

The afternoon of the 1st day was spent kayaking in the Bay! Eggcites. And it was great that my mom and dad could join too since my sister and I paired off with them, and of course my dragon boat experience was put to good use. It was quite fascinating to see that part of how these floating fishermen villages earn their keep, is in helping the cruise ships take care of their kayaks. 

Imagine living here… 

Anyway, so we kayaked to this natural beach and it was really serene and just amazing to see all this nature created by God. 

And back to the ship for dinner. They definitely fed us very very well for those four meals. We did some fishing and puzzle-playing  after dinner and my sister actually caught a fish! Bloop. 

Next morning, we went to visit a cave on one of the islands. I don’t recall the name of it because Vietnamese names are really difficult to remember

The view from the island is quite beautiful. The rock on the right looks like a whale eating the ship heh. 

The cave in the other hand, is not so photogenic. But what’s cool is how it was formed by the water flowing through it over the thousands of years and then carving out the cave in the process. Now, that’s impressive.  

So many people in the cave though. 

Then back to the ship and we had a cooking demonstration on how to carve flowers out of vegetables. From which I learnt 2 things: 1) this is a way to get kids to eat their veggies “eat the flower or the butterfly”, 2) cooking is difficult. 

And then it was the end of the cruise and we endured another 4 hour bus ride back to Hanoi. We filled in the feedback form for the cruise and we indicated that they didn’t give us a connecting room when they said they would. They were so concerned about this minor complaint that they actually sent someone down to our hotel to talk to us and bought us some Vietnamese cakes and coffee to “compensate” us, even though we were really satisfied with the cruise on the whole. Vietnamese hospitality is 👍

For dinner we went to this super huge restaurant, Marche-style with tons of different stalls selling different stuff. I’m really bad at taking food photos because I tend to forget. But here’s the limited amount I captured

(there were 6 prawns but I only remembered to take a photo after everyone took one) 

Chwee-kueh looking thing

Yeah that’s all I remembered. Vietnam does indeed have amaaaaazing food. The variety is huge and everything is so delicious. Ha Long Bay was definitely a highlight since I love being)  surrounded by water. The calmness and the serenity water brings to me is something I always look forward to. 

The non-stop honking of Hanoi though, is quite unbearable. The sidewalks are all used for the street stalls and scooter parking, which forces the pedestrians to walk on the side of the road. I legit fear for my life, but I’ve been reassured by our tour guide that “it’s chaotic but it flows”. So there’s order in the chaos, I just can’t see it. It’s quite amazing that traffic accidents are apparently quite minimal…

Last day in Hanoi tomorrow!