20.05.2016 - 21.05.2016
On 20th May we set off with our new group to Ha Long Bay, which took about four hours. On the way we stopped at a ceramic workship and saw the workers painting the pots by hand - they were pretty quick and skilled at doing it! I think they said it only took around half an hour to paint an entire pot.
Once we got to Ha Long Bay we boarded our boat pretty quickly. We had a boat for just our group and were staying on it overnight. Our cabin was the first door near the steps on the lower deck, which had a window on the opposite side of the boat. It wasn't too bad for a room on a boat but we didn't spend any time in there. The bathroom was quite compact - a wet room with a shower head directly over the toilet... so not very practical!
We cruised around Ha Long Bay for a while, with the strange shaped mounds stretching for a long way. Really quite a spectacular site!
The sea often appeared a green-ish colour and amidst the tourist boats there were people fishing and collecting things from the hillsides.
That afternoon we cruised to some famous caves and it was worth going just for a higher view of the area which looked magnificent:
As well as the inside of the caves which were quite impressive - and not too claustrophobic as the chambers were huge:
The weather started to turn as we were leaving the caves, and a storm set in. So we had to get out of there fairly quickly and board our boat again for the evening. The rain set in for most of the evening so we had to stay inside the boat. The top deck was a large dining/seating space and we ate dinner in there. After dinner we played a few rounds of Uno with the group - our group leader joined in and it was quite good fun. Later on the rain stopped and we saw dusk fall over Ha Long Bay before we went to bed.
The next morning we had an early wake up call to do a spot of kayaking before breakfast. Afterwards we had a demonstration from the boat chef as to how he created some of the items we had been presented with at dinner and lunch.
After a bit more cruising around, we headed back to land where we drove back to Hanoi.