Monday, February 28, 2011

Halong Bay

I took a tour arranged with my hotel in Ninh Binh to Halong Bay. I was a bit worried at the start because the owner of the hotel put me on a very crowded local bus (they had to hoik someone out of a seat to give me somewhere to sit) to send me on my way. Nothing was explained to me, so I assumed that I had lost my money and the bus would just leave me stranded somewhere. Then after 3 hours and a rest stop which consisted a group gully in which to relieve yourself, a man in a suit pulled me off the bus and took me on a motorbike to Halong Bay harbour. I then joined another group of tourists on an old wooden boat with quite luxurious rooms to sleep in. We had a good lunch on the boat, then sat on deck to watch the limestone peaks go by. We visited a cave, which was beautiful but slightly ruined by the amount of tourists and multicoloured lighting. After dinner and (unfortunately) Vietnamese karaoke, I slept very soundly despite the stories about the 12 people that died only about a week before when their boat sank in Halong bay (2 were British). In the morning we went out for some kayaking which was very peaceful and it was fun to disapear off where you liked. Then we headed off to the harbour and on to Hanoi by bus. I enjoy taking tours as its a good opportunity to meet other people. I met a Czech guy who was in Vietnam teaching maths in the hope of taking the brightest students back to work in the Czech Republic. There was a Chinese guy who had lived in New York for 15 years as a lawyer and was doing business in China (he says he is being asked to do more and more business in China as it is becoming more of an economic force with the U.S). I also got to practice my German and Spanish on a couple of German girls and a brother and sister from Argentina. My Spanish is definitely worse since speaking only English for the past 2 months.

Me and some people I met on the boat

Our boat

Inside one of the limestone caves

Me on the boat

The limestone peaks

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