Ha Long Bay (I wish the weather was better)

Good old memories. I always feel a bit sad its over when I read these stories back. I would still love to see Ha Long Bay during the warmer season. I am sure it would be beautiful as it wasn’t too bad in a crappy weather 🙂

*Good Morning everyone, in the last 2 days we have seen a very nice cave, been travelling,got mugged off by our driver, had a beautiful sightseeing, met some people.

On the day we visited Paradise cave, we got lost. Not in the cave but on the way there. We rent a motorbike -more like a scooter- for 100,000VND plus petrol for 70,000 and we followed the map we got. As we all know -or if not, you do now-, I can’t read a map. But believe me when I say, it was a straight road. According to the map, it was one main road we had to follow and about half way through there supposed to be a sign saying Paradise Cave. I don’t know how but we missed it. We were riding for like an hour and a half and still just in the mountains, no people or any other life sign…we stopped. No map,no internet, no phone, petrol half way down, no water…it was about 30 degrees by then. The decision  has been made, we have to turn back. On the way back we found a petrol station, got the same amount of petrol for 56,000VND and asked the lady where the cave is. She showed us, go left and right. As we kept going we eventually found a massive sign -how the hell could we miss that????- said Paradise Cave 18km. We found it…. it was 250,000VND to get in but it was the most beautiful cave I’ve ever seen. It was huge inside -the photos don’t show-, and it was all natural and just beautiful. Because we got lost, we got there at lunch time so there was barely anyone inside which was great! As we were leaving, people started to come in. I guess being lost wasn’t as bad in the end.

We travelled to Hanoi on that evening. The trip was about 11 hours to Hanoi and we bought the ticket which was actually expensive (290,000VND/person) to Ha Long Bay so Hanoi was only a changing point. We already used to the funky sleeping buses, I actually think Europe should invest in these buses as they are actually fairly comfy when you do a long trip. This particular bus was one of the most comfy so far. Except I had a little problem… on the day we visited the cave, I had ‘chicken’ with rice for lunch in a restaurant. Well,I’m sure it WASN’T chicken… not sure what was it though but surely not chicken. In the evening Rich bought me a watermelon and I ate it all there and then (it wasn’t a huge one though). I’m not sure if the ‘chicken’ or the melon but my stomach wasn’t too good during the whole bus journey. I slept ok though. As we stopped in Hanoi, the bus driver said, we just have to wait here 15 mins and the bus to Ha Long comes. So we stood there waiting for the bus but we weren’t alone. There were 5 other guys 2 Swedish, 1 German and 2 I don’t know. We all stood there when a taxi driver came and explained us, the bus won’t come here, it goes to the office and he can take us to the office for 15,000VND/person. We all said, we payed to Ha Long and they should take us to the office for free… as they weren’t willing to, we all decided to walk. We got there in about 10-15 mins and then had to wait for an other 1.5 hours. In the meantime a German guy joined who we met back in the jungle. Side note: make sure, you always stand your ground when it happens. You buy your ticket to the destination, they have to take you to the destination. Eventually we all got to Ha Long but again, instead of taking us to the center, they took us to the harbour as it turned out to be a tour bus for some of the passengers. 4 of us (2 Swedish and us) stood by the harbour trying to figure out how to get to the center when a guy came to us offering his car for only 100,000VND/car. We took it, got to the center, said goodbye from the 2guys and I had that sort of feeling, we will meet again.

Our hostel is actually very nice but the guy on reception wanted to mug us off. He said, the tour we wanted to do the next day in Ha Long Bay cost 750,000VND/person including the bus to the harbour and the boat, the fee to the bay and the cave. When I thought it’s too expensive, he pretended to call his boss and he dropped the price to 660,000. We knew it’s too much cos the ‘taxi driver’ offered the same thing for about 470,000VND. As always, we had a look around and bought our ticket for 650,000/person but it also includes lunch and kayaking.

Unfortunately we couldn’t do anything yesterday as my stomach problem continued and I was on the toilet pretty much every 10-20 mins.

It got better for today. We hopped on the bus after had a breakfast and got to the harbour. As we got on the boat guess who I saw? The 2 Swedish guys and the German 🙂 I knew sill see them again. The trip itself is very nice but it’s not summer here. At the moment in Northern Vietnam is just out of winter, beginning of spring. Not cold but very English looking weather, cloudy and a bit cold on the sea. On the way we saw the iconic Ha Long bay islands (Ha Long means descending dragon in Vietnamese and there are 925 small islands in the bay), went for kayaking around caves, saw more islands, had a really nice lunch on the boat and climbed a mountain on one of the island to see the bay from up. For about £24 it was a really nice day. It would have been a bit nicer if it was sunny but I’m not complaining as some people don’t even see beauty like this in their entire life. Still, if you ever have the chance, come and see it during summer, it must be amazing.

I’m on the boat now on the way back and our plan is to have a bit of walk in the centre today as we couldn’t yesterday and just what’s out there 🙂 We need to buy bus ticket but we aren’t sure where next yet as we have a flight on the 19th early morning from Hanoi to Bangkok. We need to think where we want to spend the next 3 days before we go to our next destination.

So we are back to the hostel. Went for a little walk but it started to rain so didn’t go too far. Decided to go to Ninh Binh tomorrow where we can see the rice paddies (I keep calling it rice puddles :)) and it’s much warmer there which I’m happy for as it was enough of cold.*

(Pictures coming a bit later this evening.)

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