This was our last stop before we got to Hanoi and completed our trip. We had booked three days here so this was our time to relax and let our bottoms rest. This trip has been incredible but my bottom will never get used to sitting on a bike for more than four hours every day!
I’m going to be honest, Ha Long Bay was a bit of an anticlimax for me. After seeing so many beautiful photos, I had assumed there would be loads of tourists/backpackers. The bay itself is well worth the trip but the town is deserted. On the night there were a few people around but otherwise it was like a ghost town. I still can’t get my head around this as there are hundreds of hotels, (I promise I’m not being dramatic there are hotels everywhere).
The beach was nice but we spent pretty much all of the first two days hiding from the rain as there was a really bad thunderstorm. If you look closely in this photo, you’ll see all the crabs which emerge as you walk away. The town being so quiet was perfect for the beach as we pretty much had it to ourselves.
We really wanted to do the boat tour so once we had a day that wasn’t forecast for too much rain, we took the risk and booked it. We didn’t want to miss out and being British we aren’t strangers to rain. It did rain a fair bit but thankfully not too much.
The most confusing morning to date
The day began as a mass of confusion. When we booked, we were told we were going to be picked up at 7:45am from our hotel lobby. I’m pretty organised so when I’m told I need to be somewhere, I’ll be there on time or a bit before. By 8:00am there was no sign of the coach. The panic was settling in pretty fast so I called the company who set it up and was told to wait two minutes. Another ten minutes passed and I called again only to be told by an irritated receiver, two more minutes. At 8:20am we were finally picked up only to be shouted at by our driver that there should be four of us. What?! We had no idea what he was talking about so we just got on the bus and took our seats. Eventually four more people from our hotel arrived and we were on our way.
After nearly running down countless pedestrians and other road users, we got to the port at 9:00am, then stood around waiting for another half an hour. We were feeling a bit embarrassed after being shouted at by the driver. Mercifully a couple we made friends with, told us he did it to literally everyone, what a nice guy. At this point, no one seemed to know what was going on including the guides themselves. We had to fill out a form that only required our name and year of our birth to receive a ticket with a actual price of the trip on it. To say we over paid would be an understatement. Whilst talking to the other people on our tour it seemed we had paid the most out of everyone. The day was starting off pretty badly. Of course it wasn’t overly expensive but it did leave a bit of a sour taste in our mouths.
Finally, we were climbing aboard the ship. We sat through a briefing session which included hilarious instructions such as, “it’s raining so don’t worry about your safety too much” and “don’t lose your ticket or we won’t let you back on the boat”.
The sights around the islands are stunning. The photo above is of the well known cocks fighting (heh heh). To me, only the right one resembles a chicken but that’s just me.
This one is dog rock. I see the dog, I also see more rocks.
Luckily for us, it only started to really rain when we were inside the amazing cave. It really was amazing, the photo doesn’t do it justice but it was huge.
After the cave we were on our way to the pearl farm for some kayaking.
I think it was about seven times we were told not to swim here. No reason or warning why, just don’t do it. It wasn’t long until I saw why.
After kayaking we had a look around the pearl farm and were taught about the process. This starts by first creating a ‘pearl’ with crushed up shell. This then gets placed into the clams membrane, so that they begin to build on it as if it’s their own. As you can see in the photo, the man is holding a ‘pearl’ and about to insert it. To me this feels a bit like cheating. I guess it’s the only way you can quickly mass produce though.
Two fishing ladies with their successful catches of the day.
This photo was taken at the top of Ti Top island. You have to climb 420 steps to get there, but the view is definitely worth the walk. This was the final stop on the tour. The best was definitely saved until last. The view is beautiful.
As soon as we stepped on the boat to return to shore, it started hammering it down. We had been so lucky with the weather and I’m so happy we were able to do this trip.