Click the location to read about our first impressions of the trip and about Hanoi
Ha Long bay is a World Heritage site off the coast of North West Vietnam. It's well known for huge limestone islands rising up out of the green water and I have to say, it's incredible. Taking a junk boat cruise (overnight or for 2-3 nights) is especially popular for tourists, and it's approximately 4 hours from Hanoi, so not too much of a stretch. We ended up doing an overnight which included from lunch time of the day before through to around lunchtime the day after.
Home for the night...
Unfortunately for us, it was super hazy whilst we were there, but although there were no blazing sunshine and blue skies to enjoy, the setting is still incredible. Our trip included a visit to a floating fishing village and caves, and a visit to one of the small islands with a beach and a stepped pathwasy for walking to the top.
For me, the experience of visiting an almost deserted fishing village and caves that had been purchased by the tour company were an ethical challenge. Whilst it was mentioned many times how much better off residents of the village are through living on the mainland, I find myself wondering how willingly they relocated and how much better off they are if they are not able to fish as they would have done whilst living out here. The ownership of so many of the islands also leaves me wondering for just how long this wonder of the world will be there to see and how it will be protected both in its existence and its ecology.
The tour of the village was our first trip on day one. We returned to the boat afterwards and had some down time to enjoy the balcony on our cabin before dinner (a seafood barbecue, included in the package). It turned out to be quite an eventful trip as Tom had a question involving diamonds to ask me...
I still can't believe that this is 4 whole weeks ago today- I said yes. Almost 6 years after we got together over a bottle of vodka, I'm now engaged to the man who makes me believe that anything is possible and has supported me endlessly to do all kinds of crazy things.
The following morning was an early-ish visit to another island owned by the tour company, with a man made beach for swimming and a stepped path up to the top of the island to take in the view. We opted to talk to the top and enjoy the views as we didn't think it was *quite* warm enough for a dip!
After returning to the boat, we 'checked out'- otherwise known as paying the bar bill as meals were included in the package, but drinks were not, and then headed out onto the deck for breakfast whilst the boat made its way back to the harbour.
For reasons aside the obvious, we did enjoy the cruise. The boat was far better equipped, and the cabins much better than expected. The food service was great, especially considering the confines of working on a boat, but the ethics issues were a concern for me, and the volume of boats leaving the harbour and out on the bay Tom compared to the D Day Landings, which I didn't feel really detracted from out trip, but again, leaves me wondering about the future of Ha Long Bay.