Our pick up for our tour was bright and early and we spent the next 3 1/2 hours on the bus en route to Ha Long City. We got to learn a little bit about the mythology behind the bay, which means "Bay of the Descending Dragon". According to legend, the dragon spit out jewels that created all of the limestone karsts that make up the bay. Ha Long Bay is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and was recently named as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
Once we arrived, we were promptly ushered onto a small boat to take us out to our "junk boat" for the next 2 days. Once we were on board, we were shown to our rooms which were honestly really nice and way better than expected. We made our way up to lunch where we got to know our travel companions for the next few days - an older couple from Ireland and 2 couples from Perth, Australia. The food was insanely good - there were between 8-9 courses every meal and it was all amazing (if you like seafood). We looked up from lunch and we were already out in the middle of the bay!
We spent the next few hours drifting serenely between the karsts. The fog in the air gave the bay a very mysterious feel. Apparently, it was extremely common for the time of the year we went. If you go in the hotter time (June-October), it's clearer, but also like 100 degrees out. We were totally fine with 80s and mist!
Our first stop was a cave that was in the middle of one of the karsts. It was cool, but it was a dead cave. Nothing new is being formed there and it was sad to see that much of it had been grafittied.
When we got back, Jason went for a swim while I got some sun up on the top of the boat. That evening, we got to go to a cooking class on board where we learned how to make spring rolls. I was literally the only person that messed this up. They were using a towel to moisten the rice paper and apparently I got it too wet. It tasted fine regardless!
Jason took an attempt at squid fishing that night, but I went up to the deck and had some Tiger beers with the Aussies. It was SO nice to have no language barrier after over a week of struggling! I was really worried about being anchored in and getting sea sick, but the water was so calm that I didn't even notice we were on a boat.
We woke up the next morning to a 6am tai chi class which we followed by breakfast and kayaking. This was definitely one of the highlights! We went through this tunnel into a lagoon where monkeys were playing and swinging between the vines. We got so close to them!
After this, we had to head back to shore. We really loved our time out on Ha Long Bay. There was a 3 day/2 night tour option we wish we had done, but we still had more to see on our trip.
This would end up being Jason's favorite stop of the trip. For me, my favorite was our next stop - Siem Reap, Cambodia!