After a 5 hour van ride listening to ‘Let it Snow’ from Frozen, we arrived to our 2 night, 3 day Alaska cruise. Okay it was actually to Halong Bay, a world heritage site and one of the wonders of the world, but nobody warned us it would be cold here (it was 90 here last week) so all we had were shorts and tank tops. Luckily HH overpacked and let me wear her leggings and long sleeves swim shirt. Thanks HH for preventing me from getting frost bite.
We boarded the Dragon Legend 1 junk boat, met our cruise director JD (nicknamed after Jack Daniels), bartender Money, and another crew member named Tom Cruise. All of the crew had these nicknames since their Vietnamese names are hard for many to pronounce and remember.
First activity after lunch (7 courses), we went kayaking in the bay. Let’s just say HH and I, who shared a kayak, will not be getting into rowing. The kayak was wobbly, we got soaking wet… at one point we half jokingly asked if we were going to sink the boat with all the water now in it. We had asked our guide to stay with us but he and the rest of the group left us in the dust to fend for ourselves. We hit into some of these very large limestone island rocks, thought we were going to paddle over a waterfall (there was no drop, but we couldn’t see anything and thought the earth was ending), we kept drifting to the right (which later we found out it happened to mostly everyone, making us feel a bit better). We kayaked to the beach and I looked like a fish out of water to get out of it, to find out we needed to then get back in the kayak to head back to the boat. HH and I looked at each other and told JD we’d be sleeping on the island because we couldn’t get back in the kayaks again. We took the JD option (known as the lazy person option) and he paddled us back with ease to the boat. We opted out the next day for the 2nd round of kayaking the next day.
Back to my element on board the Junk Boat, we hit the spa for a stone massage. It included hair pulling, slapping, the therapist climbing on the table, and more, but very relaxing, the room overlooked the bay, and very inexpensive for a 90 min massage.
Day 2 we took a boat ride to a floating village, we then boarded smaller canoes with locals paddling us along this village. While cold, it was a cool experience to see how the locals live here. One of the things we had seen in the village was the oyster farm, where you could purchase an 18″ long string of pearls for $1,000 USD. All of the other groups got a paddle through a cave, but our group ‘driver’ took the JD option too and we skipped that part of the tour. Then it was off to hike up to a cave inside the limestone rocks, before having a BBQ lunch on the beach. They handed me a chicken wing that was huge and looked far too much like the alive version I couldn’t eat it. I stuck to my diet staple these few days, the rice with soy sauce.
On the boat we made friends with many – there were only 28 people on board. We thought it’d be mostly couples but it was a good mix of couples, a few groups of friends and their mom (they picked up another friend in Hanoi they hadn’t seen in 15 years to join them too). Everyone was super friendly and the service again was great.
A few more hours on board before driving off to the water puppet show and then the airport to explore Ho Chi Minh City.
#travel #southeastasia #Vietnam