Written by Coralie
20/10/2008 - 21/10/2008 31 °C
So, our first trip in Vietnam was to Ha Long Bay, where 3000 or more incredible limestone islands rise from the waters...it's a UNESCO world heritage site and words simply cannot do it justice. The islands hide away secret caves which we were able to explore on kayaks and by small boats. Our home for the 36 hours we were there was a 'junk' (boat) called Dream Voyage - we breathed a deep sigh of relief when we got on board and were thankful that we'd booked a 'second class' boat rather than third...it was perfectly nice, until we got to bed and found cockroaches in our room and an earwig in tom's bed! ha ha! We got to Ha Long Bay after a 3 1/2 hour bus journey, got on the boat and started to make our way towards the biggest cave, Heavenly Cave - it was HUGE! and there were stalagmites/tites everywhere - it was really amazing to walk around in and we were in awe as to the size of it. We then made our way further into the islands where we got on a small boat which took us around to see some caves and a small 'fishing village' (photo above). They live here all year around and lead an extraordinarily hard life, despite their beautiful surroundings. They even have dogs living on these tiny floating houses!
For the first time since being out here, we finally met some other people as well...there was a group of 4 Americans with us on the boat and we had a great laugh with them! Everyone else slowly made their way to bed after dinner and the 6 of us sat on the top of the boat, drinking bottle after bottle of Tiger beer, listening to music, taking in the view as the sun set and generally putting the world to rights! It was a great laugh and good to sit around and find out what they had done and where they'd been. They were crazy and great fun! They're currently working in a school up in Bangkok so we'll hopefully hook up with them when we get there.
The following day, we then made our way back to Ha Long Bay town - Tom and I completely forgot to put on any sun cream (our malaria pills make our skin much more sensitive to the sun but this slipped our memories) , the result being that we arrived, both very red indeed- I have the most giant panda eyes and Tom's back is sore...not ideal with 2 days of trekking with a backpack ahead...
Anyway, back to Ha Long Bay town where we had some lunch - the boys wanted to find cobra to eat - there is a tradition here where you eat a cobra and take the heart out, whilst it's still beating - you put it in a glass of rice wine and then drink it in one...thankfully, they couldn't find anywhere although it would have been hysterical to see.
We then made our way back to Hanoi - having had such a peaceful 2 days in the bay, it was such a shock getting back here to the madness that is this city. We said a sad farewell to the Americans and spent our last evening in Hanoi relaxing, contemplating and eating pizza!