7.30 am and time to wake up. We are off to the tourist destination in Northern Vietnam. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay.
After a grueling 3 hours on a cramped minibus, we arrived in Halong City. My first thought was “We are another shitload of tourists”. There were thousands of tourists, backpackers and people with trollies and high heels all merging into one mess of people wanting to see the islands and rock formations
We had a small but fun group with an English-Irish couple from Hong Kong, an Australian teacher who taught in Abu Dabi, an American teacher stationed in a remote Japanese village and a couple on their honeymoon – no, not us. They were Americans – he is a psychiatrist and she works for Sesame Street (no kidding).
We went out on the bay in sunny but hazy weather … the islands are just amazing rising up from the water in a myriad of forms and shapes. They are usually named after the animal they depict or the first person to enter it. They are usually rock formation and just rise up straight from the sea. The top is covered with trees and other plants. It is just gorgeous. We then headed towards one of the caves, called “Amazing Cave” (the name speaks for itself). Afterwards, we cruised towards a small island with a beach (but it was too cold to swim) and finally to a fish farm where they grow – you guessed it right – fish!
The food on the boat was just incredibly delicious and together with the group and the beautiful scenery made for a fantastic time. After dinner, the tour guide taught us a funny Vietnamese song (where we all had to sing along) followed by a long discussion about bracelets (it seems, everyone had them and sharing our experiences helped us to overcome our individual traumas – at least, we didn’t need the psychiatrist).
After a long and exhausting bus ride (cramped again with loads of tourists), we arrived back in Hanoi and to our hostel. It felt like coming home with warm greetings by Mike (the friendly owner). We packed our stuff for Northern Vietnam, had a shower and headed towards the train station. After a wonderful dinner at a street-side restaurant, we went to the train station and boarded the over-night train to Lao Cai (leaving at 9pm arriving at 5am)