Hi it’s Claire here. Luckily I recovered quickly from my bout of illness, thank you to all the well wishers. From the confines of the hotel room I tried to embrace Vietnamese culture (of sorts) by watching Vietnam Idol, which I’m not sure made me feel better or worse!
Our Ha Long Bay tour was amazing. Ha Long Bay is made up of nearly two thousand limestone islands covering around 1,500 square km. Our guide said it would take 2 weeks of sailing to see all the islands properly. The views were absolutely spectacular and I can see why Ha Long Bay has been nominated as one of the World’s 7 Natural Wonders. We shared the tour with an Australian family of 6, an English couple from Liverpool and a Canadian couple, who were all great fun.
On the first day our boat sailed around the bay, where we visited a fishing family who lived on a floating raft. We hired kayaks from one of the families and went looking for a cave that our guide mentioned. After a couple of wrong turns we found the cave and amusingly it was manned by achap on a floating platform charging an entrance fee of a few pence.
It transpired that the cave was the only entrance to a small bay and when we came through the cave we were clearly all dumbstruck by the beauty. The bay had steep high sides and we (our six kayaks) were the only people there. The quiet within the bay was striking and we all sat and floated for a while just taking it in.
We then paddled back to the boat and went for a swim in the rather chilly sea. The brave among us jumped from the top deck of the boat into the water, but I opted for more of a “slither” from the lower deck. Mark bottled the top deck also but flung himself from the first floor. We must be braver next time. We spent the night on the boat eating and chatting to the other guests on the boat.
On day 2 we visited a huge cave which had been “improved” to allow tourists to walk through. Despite the manufactured nature of some parts the caves were stunning.
After this we climbed to a lookout point on another small outcrop to appreciate the views.
We felt sad to leave Ha Long Bay knowing we may never return. It really is a breathtaking place and we only saw such a tiny part.