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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Two Days on a Vietnamese Junk

We left Ha Noi after a couple of days for two days in Ha Long Bay. We started by boarding a mini bus for a four hour ride to the bay during which, we had the requisite stop at the craft shop. Once we got there we were shown to our 'Vietnamese Junk'. We booked this trip in Ha Noi so we were really nervous that we were going to get stuck with a really terrible boat but when we got on, everything looked ok.

Most of the rooms were on the first level, the restaurant was on the second level and there was a sundeck on top where you could lounge and look at all of the lovely karst formations. We lucked out and got one of the 'honeymoon' suites on the second floor which featured a large window overlooking the bay- it was lovely!

One of the first stops the boat made was at a floating fish market. The people there had caught fish out of the bay and we were offered the opportunity to buy any extra seafood that we wanted to go with our lunch. We weren't willing to eat anything that we had met personally so we passed. Some of the other passengers bought fish though and I must say that the execution was pretty brutal!
Next we stopped at a cave. This was kind of cool but very touristy. I thought that the ceiling was some kind of crazy rock formation but it just turned out to be covered in cement! Very disappointing.

We then parked the boat in one of the little coves for the night. Sean jumped into the seawater from the top of the boat along with some British guys. No way was I jumping in there- it was freezing!

We spent the evening on the boat eating, drinking and enjoying the scenery. It was really some of the most breathtaking scenery that I have ever seen. It was also really funny because all day we had these 'floating 7-11s' coming around trying to sell us snacks, batteries, etc. It was pretty amazing because we were pretty far away from any towns and these people would show up with a row boat full of stuff.
The next day we went to the only island in the bay that is inhabited. We hiked up to one of the peaks on the island for a pretty amazing view of the bay. By the time we got to the bottom I was exhausted-- fortunately, there was someone waiting at the bottom of the trail, in the middle of the forest, with a cooler full of ice cream to sell us. Of course, we bought two!
We spent the rest of the day hanging out on the beach and walking around the little town. We boarded the junk early the next morning and were in Ha Noi again by nightfall.