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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hanoi to Halong Bay. Day 2

Up bright and early for a beautiful breakfast at the Essence and ready for the 180km journey to Halong Bay.  We decided to get a private car rather than the coach.
Full buffet breakfast as well as you choice of a la carte.  The kids enjoyed banana pancakes and french toast while we had eggs any style.  There was of course Pho but I could just not fit it in.

A quick snap of the building across the road.  If those wall could talk.....

By our departure at 0800 the streets of the Old Quarter were already bustling with daily life.

Buying some food to go as we left.

The road to Halong is described in the brochure as 3 to 3 and a half hours of scenic beauty.  I gotta tell's 4 hours of disappointment.  There were occasional glimpses of the beauty that was sure to have been there years ago but mainly you get a snippet of a rice paddy between industrial estates and dark dreary towns.  Take a book.
  I wonder if Duc Luan means "Oh Shit" in Vietnamese?

As we left the skies opened up and it pored with rain.  Makes for an interesting ride.

Avid readers will recall I have the only children in the world who do not sleep on transport.  Okay, the sugar did not help.

We were due in Halong at 1200.

Scarlett fell asleep at 1155.

OK.  So now the fun starts.  Upon recommendation we chose Bhaya.  By no means the cheapest company we were concerned with safety and they had a good reputation and good reviews on trip advisor.

They have 4 boats and we were placed on Classic 1.  The oldest of the four but still quite lovely.

Upon boarding we were strewn with flower petals and all ushered into the dining room to meet the crew and have a nice cool drink followed by an amazing seafood lunch.  A VERY nice way to kick things off.

The kids were super excited to be spending the night on a boat.  Christopher is not a huge fan of boats and I thought he might be a bit nervous but he did not seem phased at all.  As we weighed anchor we all ran outside with excitement to catch our first glimpse of the majestic Halong Bay.

As we are a family of four we had to book 2 cabins.  Quiddy bunked in with me and Nick with Scarlett.  It was quite lovely to lie on the bed and watch the Bay slide by.

Halong literally means "descending dragon bay". According to local legend, when the Vietnamese were fighting the Chinese invaders, the gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land.  This family of dragons began spitting our jewels and jade.  These jewels turned into the islands and inlets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders.  The people kept their land safe and formed what later became the country of Vietnam. 
Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 square kilometres, including 1,960 islets, most of which are limestone.

The kids and I spent ages playing a game where you had to make an animal out of the shape of the island you saw.  You can probably guess this was part of the camel.

Hauntingly beautiful.

A community of around 1500 people live on the bay in 4 fishing villages.  We stopped at one village for a tour with a lady in a local fishing boat.  The men earn a living by fishing and the women pick up a few bucks by doing this!

The catch of the day!

As the sun started to descend it was almost enough to take your breath away.

We feel very blessed that the children have an opportunity to see such natural beauty and culture combined.  We hope that it ignites in them how precious our world is and how important it is to look after it.

Back onto the tender to go back to the big boat under the safe guidance of my 2 little sailors.

While Scarlett and I dressed for dinner, Nick and Quiddy went exploring on a Kayak.  I was surprised when Quiddy said he wanted to do it.  He is really growing up and ready to try new and scary things!

Nick and Scarlett catching the last of the sunset...

....while Christopher took in a cooking demonstration.

Learning how to make carrot flowers.

Good job buddy.  Then he even ate it!

Time for dinner.  They do sting you a bit for alcohol.  A bottle of wine was about 35USD.

Dinner was a set menu.  They had a 3 course kids menu as well that included good old Spag Bog for the little ones.  Everyone was happy.

As per my previous post, just before we came down for dinner was when I was bitten by that pesky Dengue mosquito.  Perhaps I had a premonition of what was coming!

It was a HUGE day.  Not just for the kids but for us also.  So with the boat anchored for the night and gentle sound of the waves lapping at our sides...we all drifted off into a very sound sleep (except for Nick who stupidly started playing Angry Birds on the iPad and got trapped until midnight!  Idiot!)  Stay tuned for tomorrows adventures around Halong Bay and beyond!


  1. OMG - your boat was SO MUCH NICER than ours!!! I would do anything to do ours all over again in greater style... but then I suppose our crappy boat came without dengue fever. :(

  2. Gorgeous photos! Hopefully the dengue experience doesn't ruin the memory of the fabulous trip.

  3. Scarlett has perfected the VN squat :-)


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