Our time in and around Hanoi was shortened due to circumstances beyond my control-big group and we have to meet up in Indonesia sooner. As a result, we only had one full day to do
Halong Bay and really haven't gotten to see anything in Hanoi aside from the atrocious traffic jams and pollution. We had booked a 1-day trip out to Halong Bay and I was chastised 3 or 4 times yesterday for not doing an overnighter on one of the junk boats-really not my decision-but by the 2nd or 3rd time it was comical. First the Aussie working at our hostel said what a shame it was since it's such a nice place and really worth staying at least overnight especially since it's 7 hours travel time to and from
Hanoi. Then on the bus out there our "bus guide" got on my case since I mentioned I was doing the 1-dayer (everyone but our group plus 1 other girl was doing a 2 or 3-day trip). I had answered some trivia question he was asking and then he asked which trip I was on and I responded and he just want off about how "you are like a
Japanese tourist....always in a hurry...rush rush rush." On our boat, when we asked if swimming was part of the tour and then later how long we would be kayaking or how long we'd be in the cave for the answer was always something like "too short" or "very short" since it was the 1-day trip :)
When we got off our bus, I was filling our water bottles with a big jug we had brought with us and I saw out of the corner of my left eye an old Vietnamese woman asking me for something. I said no thank you a few times until I finished filling the water bottle. Then I turned towards her and realized she had been holding out her own water bottle towards me. Luckily there was just enough to fill her's up and then she wanted the empty jug too, so it worked out.
Halong Bay was beautiful. It didn't look quite like the postcards since those were taken on a clear day and it was completely overcast yesterday, but it made the scenery surreal-looking with the greenery-covered rocks and limestone cliffs appearing as if out of nowhere. Our guide said our
weather was better for us since it's unbearably hot when it is clear. I can believe that since it was still hot overcast. We were served a really nice lunch right when we got onboard-fish, rice, cut-up fried egg things, fried spring rolls, fries, veggies, and lychees for dessert. Then it was off to the
Cave". We parked our boat and walked up a series of stone steps and had a nice view of the scenery before we entered the cave. There were yellow, white and purplish lights highlighting the stalactites, other formations and textures inside of the cave. There was a fallic-looking rock that our guide called the "Viagra Rock". Near the exit, there was kind of a chasm downward through the rocks that our guide said was to "hell" and then upward where the stairs led out of the cave and you could see light was "heaven". We all agreed that the the chasm part looked more exciting. We took pictures of the "door to hell" and after we both looked at our pictures we could see the word "hell" clearly etched on a rock in the picture but we had not even noticed it when we took the shot. I looked at the rock again and I could kind of see the word on the rock but not nearly as clearly as it came out in the photo.
We kayaked for about 30 minutes just kind of out in the middle but managed to make it around a pretty big rock. It was nice to get some exercise with my arms but couldn't really see anything we hadn't seen from the boat except get a closer view of the floating villages. Those are the fishing boats moored together with shack-like things out in the middle of the water. The cruising around in the boat was great. I hung out on the top deck and took it all in with a 360 degree view.
Our tour was from about 8am to 8pm and the guide said that we needed to be on the road by 4:30 or 5pm to avoid all of the trucks transporting coal from Halong Bay to Hanoi. We did see one boat full of coal on our way back into port. From what little I saw of Hanoi, it looks like they have a lot of industry. On our drive from the airport to city center we passed one electronics manufacturer after another-Panasonic, Sony and 2 others.
This morning we fly out through Ho Chi Minh City, spend the night in Singapore and the next morning fly to Sumatra, Indonesia.
Source: Travel Blogs