Limestone reminds me of home. It makes me think about the Edwards Aquifer, Natural Bridge Caverns… even the Cenotes down in Mexico, my second home. But this is different.
After a 4 hour bus ride from Hanoi, we (from Northern Ireland, England, Australia, Israel, Luthuania, and lil ol me) arrived at a dock in the south China sea to board the 12-cabin junk boat that would take us out on a 3 day cruise of Ha Long Bay. There are a million tourist-filled junk boats dotting the horizon, with a huge range in price and quality. Luckily I was right in trusting my hotel’s recommendation; my boat, the Legacy, has way bigger cabins than any Carnival cruise I’ve been on and the food was great. We boarded, had lunch, and then immediately went Kayaking to a beach.
The water is green and warm, with nearly 2000 (!) limestone islands jutting out of the water. It’s absolutely beautiful to see, although most of its grandeur is hidden in the caves and lagoons that you need a Kayak to properly explore.
It’s been raining here, but that didn’t change the itinerary (at first). We went on a 2 hour ‘yakin journey on the first day, where it downpoured the entire time, drifting underneath some of the islands and around some of the others. We parked the boats at the foot of one island to walk up the steps and into a cave that put natural bridge to shame- it was absolutely massive and took about half an hour just to walk through and out the other side.
On day two, the rain picked up, but we kept at it, going on another long ‘yaking adventure and then to a pearl farm, which was very cool.
By the time we got back on the boat, the rain started coming in sideways, and when the thunder began the tour guides thought it best to head back. Sort of disappointing, although water sports aren’t really my thing and I’d seen as much of the bay as I wanted to. The tour set us up in a really nice hotel for the night with meals included, and I got my first proper bath in what feels like ages.
Tomorrow is up in the air, we’ll go back out to see one of the fishing villages on the water IF it’s not raining…. but the forecast and i both suspect that’ll be a no-go. Either way, tomorrow will be a heavy travel day for me: a 4 hour bus back to Hanoi, and then a 2 hour flight to Danang followed by a 45-minute ride into Hoi An, which I’ve heard nothing but great things about from the other travelers. It’s an ancient port city and also “the city of lanterns”, and is said to have the best food and tailors in the country. I’ll be staying there longer than any other city. I plan to get a dress made, take a day trip to Hue, and just relax.
That’s all for now, later!