Oh you guys, I am absolutely LOVING Vietnam so far and from what I’ve heard it’s meant to get even better. This was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to (followed closely by Cambodia) so I’m really happy that whatever expectations I had are being met and even exceeded!
We had a really good time on our Halong Bay cruise. It was for 3 days and 2 nights and we got to sleep on the boat which was a lot better than I was expecting. One of the great things about Halong Bay is that it’s usually pretty calm so on the big boat I barely noticed it rocking back and forth.
We got the room right next to the dining/dance floor (yes, dance floor on the boat. It lit up and everything!) so we were worried that we’d be kept up by all the partiers with this being a Party Cruise and all. Definitely wasn’t the case as we absolutely lucked out with the other guests on the boat!
Funny thing about our room, the bathroom door was glass so you could clearly see who was on the toilet.
The first night it was us, a group of 6 Aussie guys, and another couple. Oh yeah, and two very entertaining gay Russians. They seemed to prefer each others company more than ours so we didn’t see much of them (and the language barrier didn’t help either). They did provide us with a couple funny moments – at dinner one of them showed up drunk on the vodka they brought with them, wearing a captain’s hat and Aladdin’s pants, then proclaimed that “This is going to be FUN” in the thickest Russian accent you can imagine (accompanied by a sweet little dance move). We didn’t see him for the rest of the night.
Back to the other people – we were all relatively the same age and had a lot in common so we all got on really well. So the ‘Party Cruise’ was more of a ‘Chill Out On The Deck Talking While Drinking Beer and Watery Cocktails.’ We also did a lot of squid fishing using the shimano stradic ci4 which involved shining a light at the water to attract the squid then jigging the hook/lure until one was hooked. I can’t believe I didn’t get any video or photos of it tho! It was so funny, after they were caught, they’d just start squirting ink all over the place! Couldn’t bring them into the boat until they were done unless you wanted to be covered in ink. Matt managed to catch a Cuttlefish that was twice as big as any of the squid!
Another popular activity was jumping off the boat into the water. The ledge was about 8 metres over the water not to mention that you had to time your jump in order to advoid the jelly fish. Needless to say, I didn’t partake, but Matt did! You can see he’s really nervous in the video but after this jump he did it a few more times without hesitation!
And with that we checked off our first item on our 100 things list – Swim in Ha Long Bay (although my swim wasn’t nearly as exciting as Matt’s was).
We had 3 different guides over the course of 3 days – Chien, Squid Man, and Jeremy (although he pronounced it Germy so that could’ve been his real name). Each were awesome in their own right. Chien spoke the best english and was really chilled out. He told us some interesting stories and tried really hard to get karaoke started but with no luck. Squid Man was very stylish with his long in the front haircut and black skinny jeans. He was also the squid catching master and that’s where he got the nickname (obviously). And Jeremy was so EXCITED and ENERGETIC and we COULDN’T UNDERSTAND A WORD OUT OF HIS MOUTH. He spoke so FAST that we came to the conclusion that he only said half of the word before moving onto the next. For example, ‘Party Cruise’ was actually ‘Party Cru’ and ‘Summer Roll’ was ‘Sum Ro.’ His best line is the title of this post. He was (attempting) to let us know the itinerary for the day and ended his speech by pumping his fist, smiling wide and saying, “MORE THE FUN!”
We couldn’t stop laughing.
Here’s a little clip of him giving us a cooking demonstration. Bonus points to anyone who can decipher whatever’s coming out of his mouth. It gets real confusing at the 30 second mark…
Yeah, I don’t know either.
Here’s me showing off my spring roll skills…
Anyway, the main reason we were there was to take in Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and 2nd on the list of 7 Natural Wonders of the World. It lived up to the hype, believe me.
Even with spending 3 days out there, I couldn’t get over how georgeous it was.
We had heard that it can get a bit crowded with boats and tourists but we must have gone in quiet season cause there were hardly any boats around. And if there were, they were nowhere near us!
The only complaints that I have are pretty minor – 3 years ago the government said that all the boats had to be painted white. In order to get papers and continue operating, all the boats did a poor paint job so what were gorgeous wooden boats are now covered in peeling white paint. And the second was the garbage floating the water. Not too bad now but give it 5 years without a good clean up and the beauty of all the islands will be ruined.
There were also a couple caves that we visited – Surprising Cave was the most popular and beautiful.
The cruise and Halong Bay was so much better than Matt and I thought it would be. I’d definitely recommend the Party Cruise but the people in your group will make all the difference!