The wonders of the world have been put on hold for us due to the Covid19 and border closures but we can still remember the great times we had, the beautiful places we have been and better still we can share them with others so they can enjoy them. They may even bring back great memories and joy to those who have traveled to this most exotic part of the world before. Today I am going back to our trip to Vietnam in 2018 and more specifically Ha Long Bay.
Ha Long Bay is situated in northern Vietnam and is about a 3 hour drive from Hanoi (approx. 170kms). The Bay consists of an endless array of Islands (some 1969 of which 980 are named), islets, caves and forests to explore as well as the wonders of those floating villages you hear so much about. Legend has it Ha Long Bay islands and islets were created by the dragons helping to defend Vietnam against attacking armies when the country was newly formed.
Our cruise of Ha Long Bay was all part of our 23 Day Natural Wonders of Vietnam and Cambodia tour with Travelmarvel. We had already explored Hanoi and Sapa and we were looking forward to our cruise of this gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage listed site which we had heard and seen so much about. It was now our turn to explore and see what all the fuss was about.
We arrived and boarded our Auco Cruise (www.aucocruises.com) which set sail on a sunny day, heading out into the bay and into the maze of islands that lay beyond. The array of boats and junks heading out to explore Ha Long Bay is amazing and everywhere you look there is yet another junk gliding through the bay, heading off to see this amazing sight. After a wonderful lunch on board we had our first expedition to visit Tien Ong Cave (one of many caves dotted throughout Ha Long Bay).
Tien Ong Cave is a large and spectacular cave (over 1000 square metres) which has all the obligatory stalactites and stalagmites as well as a history of archaeology and a display of artifacts from the Hoa Binh Culture dating back many, many, many years.
Our day of exploring done we head back to our boat for dinner and fun. The great thing about doing this type of cruise/tour is that you can relax and enjoy yourself, get well fed, meet great people and have some fun. We had great fun after dinner in the spring roll making competition and the squid fishing, both bringing lots of laughter to everyone on board.
Day two saw us winding our way through and past more wonderful islands and formations and into floating villages to Cua Van where we had the option of kayaking or being toured around on a Sampan. I went for the Sampan (bamboo boat) and Wayne opted for the kayak. We cruised past village homes, fishing boats and beautiful scenery before disembarking to wander around the fishing museum to learn about the area and the fishing village life and culture. We enjoyed people watching and the makeshift boat where a plastic chair was used as the seat and the man paddling used his feet instead of his hands. I don’t know how he did it but he looked very relaxed (if it was me I would have been overboard in a matter of seconds!).
After yet another wonderfully tasty lunch on board we cruised through more scenically wonderful and beautiful places before a visit to a secluded beach where we were able to swim, kayak and enjoy the sunshine. While we were there a Vietnamese lady had what I would call a floating bar/shop and was trying to sell to us drinks and snacks. She even had a basket to take your money So you could hang over your balcony and get your goods. It was so funny.
We also went for a bike ride to visit Viet Hai Village (a remote area of Cat Ba Island) where we toured the village and the gardens. The bikes had no gears but we did get helmets. The ride was a bit flat, uphill, downhill, through a tunnel and along village roads. It was so much fun and the people of Vietnam so far are so very nice and pleasant.
Back on board we enjoyed a wonderful last night with a special BBQ on the top deck, the food was fantastic and there was fruit carving demonstrations and music. A most pleasant evening. Followed the next morning by a Vietnamese Tea Ceremony before we disembarked to continue to our next destination.
This was a cruise of not only beauty and wonder but of local culture, lifestyle and family. The scenery was magnificent but I do wonder if they let too many boats into the area and what damage is being done to the area. Like most of Vietnam the waters are scattered with rubbish in some areas but if you can see past that you can see the beauty of a laid back and somewhat carefree life.
It is a must if you visit Vietnam and to do a cruise makes it easy, enjoyable, fun and relaxing.