Halong Bay

Date: 05/06/2007 | Author: Gabby

I had been warned to be disappointed by Halong Bay. Everyone agrees that it is incredibly beautiful, but it's beauty means that it is incredibly busy, which frequently means it's incredibly dirty. We had been told the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin are often littered with tons of rubbish, plastic bags etc. How sad is it that the most beautiful parts of South East Asia often end up like this?
With a huge range of boats to choose from to explore the bay, we opted for the Lagoon Explorer. It is one of the few real sailing junks in operation and only accommodates 7 or 8 people, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on the people you are cruising with!
We left the Old Quarter of Hanoi at about 8.30am for the 4 hour drive to the port. The guide on our bus was hysterical, microphone in hand, commenting on many aspects of Vietnamese life from the use of condoms to Hanoi street names. He then handed the mike the 12 or so people on the bus and asked us all to say a word about ourselves. Fortunately, Ella volunteered to be spokeswoman for the Bracey family - it's certainly a way of breaking the ice!
Our fellow junk passengers were 3 Australian women, 2 ex-school teachers in their 60s and one of their daughter-in-laws. They were lovely, but it was Ella who enjoyed their company the most. One of them in particular, Susie, liked to chat as much as Ella did! Needless to say, the girls home schooling was very well catered for on our trip.
Halong Bay was incredibly beautiful as not nearly as dirty as I expected. The water wasn't that clean - hardly surprising the number of boats that cruise the area - but there wasn't a lot of rubbish. The girls enjoyed a couple of swims off the boat - they just didn't spend too much time under the water! The surroundings are gorgeous and the bay certainly deserves to be a World Heritage Site.
Our boat was lovely, the food amazing and the cabins really comfortable - the girls lucked out by getting the only one with an ensuite bathroom.
It was a gorgeous trip, a bit short, as we had less than 24 hours on the water. Probably just as well as we spent most of the time eating (and drinking!) so if we had had longer we would have probably wobbled off the junk!

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