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We Went down to eat breakfast at 7 after packing our stuff up and having a shower (the water was working this morning!) Our bus was meant to pick us up at 8 to go to Ha Long Bay but was an hour late. This didnt matter particularly because we got chatting to an Australian guy who had just travelled up from Hue on the bus - the same service we were going to travel South on. He filled us in on each of the places he had been in Vietnam and we were able to do the same for Laos as this is where he was heading next. He was a really nice guy and very helpful. 

When our minibus did arrive we got in aand drove through the city to pick up the rest of the people in the group. From hanoi to Hai Phong it was 3 hours. We stopped halfway at a pottery place. They had some amazing stuff. People were doing embroidery which at first glance looked like paintings because they were in so much detail. Everything was very expensive though because it was all aimed at tourists. We arrived at the harbour where there were so many boats and i was worried the whole trip was going to be spoilt by the number of people but once we set off it was clear this wouldnt be the case because there was such a vast expanse of these limestone islands. On our boat there were 17 people plus the crew. It was a very nice boat. On the middle level there were all the tables which we ate at and a bar. Then below were the rooms, which were very nice (the best we had stayed in since we have been away!) and there was also a top deck which had several plants and sunbeds. We had lunch straight after we got on the boat. They brought out dish after dish of lovely food, lots of fresh seafood cooked very nicely. After this we headed towards the caves. The first one, Hang Thien Cung was huge with lots of stalagmites and stalactites and was only discovered in 1993, it seems amazing no one knew this huge thing was there!All of the formations were lit up with different coloured lights making it feel enchanted. There were some formations which resembled a lion and a dragon. The seconds cave was also very big but not lit up. This was not so popular with tourists probably just because it didnt look so pretty. This one however had some religious significance to the vietnamese so was popular with them instead of tourists. From here we got back on the boat and started to waeve our way between the limestone islands. Unfortunately the weather wasnt that great so it was as clear as it could have been. It did mean that there was a bit of a haze which made the area seem a little mysterious. 

Dinner was just as amazing as lunch had been, again dish after dish of gorgeous food! We headed to bed quite early as it was a reasonable early start the next day. 

We woke up early and had a good breakfast. Then we headed to a floating village and got into a small boat with the locals who took us to some smaller caves. At this point it absoultely tipped it down with rain and everyone got soaked. On our return we got changed into dry clothes. We then stopped at a place in one of the floating villages who had loads of sections with different fish which they had caught and were selling. Some of what they had we have never seen before but ones which we did recognice were lion fish, crabs, prawns, small sharks. There were some weird things which from above looked like stingrays but on the underside looked like crabs, we are yet to look them up and find out what they were! After this we did some kayaking. dom and i were in the same kayak. We paddled (well mostly dom because i got tired quickly!) close to the limestone pinnacles to try and spot some wildlife. We saw a few purple crabs and birds but not much else, it was still fascinating looked up at the surface of the limestone though. The whole timethere was this buzzing sound which we presumed was rattle snakes? We then paddled a fair way to a beach which lay at the foot of one of the islands, we arent sure whether it was natural or man made. After just under 2 hours of paddling we headed back to the boat. We thne headed back to shore. On the way back the sun broke through the cloud and it was very hot. this meant that the ilands became clear which was nice to see. 

After stopping for lunch on the way back we got dropped off at the guest house we stayed our first night with. the family were very pleased to see us and very welcoming. We said we didnt want the same room again and they said they didnt have any rooms left so they arranged for us to stay at a nearby guest house. This one was much nicer! After settling in we headed out to get some food. We ere planning on watching the water puppets on the lake but it didnt appear to be on so we went to a nearby theatre to watch a show with the puppets instead. They firstly played some traditional music which was very good. Although the show was in vietnamese we knew what the story was (a myth about the lake) so we were able to follow it. The special effects were brillinat and it was very good. 

we then headed back to the guest house. 


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Xin Chao Travel Halong Bay
We are happy to send you our impressions on our excellent trip to Halong Bay with your company. The organization and monitoring of our trip was impeccable, thanks to our friendly and excellent guide Minh not forgetting the super driver Dzung.

Mardy Scott (Australia)
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