Thursday, November 09, 2006

Halong Bay is an UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Vietnam. We desperately wanted to visit alone, without taking a packaged tour, however that seemed to be impossible. We signed up for a packaged 2-day 1 night trip aboard a "Junk" boat. The tour operators promised a max of 16 people, hours of kayaking, swimming, and great food. Our boat had about 30 people the first day (22 overnight), 20 minutes of kayaking (before breakfast on day 2), 20 minutes of swimming (day 2), and terrible food. The bay was beautiful but it was hard to get passed the tour we were on. The bay is completely filled with tourist boats (like ours) and the caves we visited were disappointing.

At night we docked in a bay for dinner and some rest. There isn't much to do on the boat so most people go to bed pretty early. This may be the only place in Vietnam where you can't hear a car horn.

Surprisingly our boat was quite nice and our cabin had 2 bed, a bathroom, and hot water.

The docking process is a "free-for-all" and as a result all of the boats are pretty banged up. The most entertaining part of the tour was watching the boats crash into eachother. Our boat lost a few boards and we watched another boat sink in the middle of the bay. When we returned to the dock we saw another sunken "Junk" boat (that's really what they are called) sticking up out of the water.

I guess that lighting a cave with colored lights and filling once tranquil ponds with electronic water fountains kind of takes you out of the natural element and makes you feel like you are in a crappy version of Disneyland. The caves were beautiful but because of what has been done to them I was thoroughly unimpressed.

1 comment:

Alane said...

Great pictures! I am glad your Junk had bathrooms as the Junks I saw in Hong Kong had boards positioned over the bay instead (yuk!).