After calling it an early night in Hanoi, the next morning arrived, and it was time to take a four-hour bus to the magnificent, UNESCO World Heritage site, Ha Long Bay. We got to the docks and took a dingy out to our larger boat, where we then checked into our nice rooms. The boat had a lower deck for sleeping, a middle deck for dining plus some more accommodations, and an upper deck for tanning and foozball.
Following a nice lunch, we headed into Sung Sot Cave, which possessed superb stalagmites and stalactites. There were a bunch of cool rocks that formed creatures, such as elephants and dragons. After the cave, we headed back onto the boat, where we relaxed for a couple of hours. Kayaking was next up on the agenda, but unfortunately, the activity was cut short due to a strong current. In addition, some, like myself, took this opportunity following the kayaking, to jump off the top deck of the boat before it got too dark out. After dinner, there was a party with music blasting, and two other boats coming on to our boat to join us. The night was a lot of fun, and I’m sure the bartender made a lot of money.
The next morning, we woke up early and headed off to Freedom Island. This is one of the 1,969 islands in Ha Long Bay. Freedom Island is used solely by Ha Long Bay Party Cruises (our boat company), so only the people that were on our boat, were on island. On the way to the destination, we had the chance to do a 12-meter cliff jump. Sadly, I was the lone LBW member to accept the challenge, and I’m really happy that I did so, as it made for a great picture. After another good meal, we got into teams via random selection and participated in a volleyball tournament. I always relish an opportunity to bring out my competitive side and test others to do so as well.
In the late afternoon, I took a swim off of the island, and this was probably my highlight of the mini-trip. There was an area where only one man, who spoke zero English, and his dog lived. There was supposed to be a new hotel being built there, but the water wrecked it, and the construction team decided to forgo the project. After arriving on the property, some of us who made the journey traveled through a cave. This including swimming in the cave or walking in knee-deep water, and did I mention that it’s very, very dark. Luckily for us, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, which opened up into a beautiful lagoon. One could scream whatever they want, and a loud echo would return to them. The area was so tranquil, and such a reward for traveling off of the island.
After returning to the rest of the group, we ate dinner and started to party. At about 10 pm, a bunch of us got into the water in order to see the glowing plankton at night. It was awesome to see green sparks every time you moved your arm or leg, but from stories that I heard, it definitely could have been a little more fluorescent.
The next morning was another early one, as it was a travel day. We travelled on many boats and buses to get back to Hanoi at 5 pm, where we only had one hour until our sleeper bus to Phong Nha. The next blog post will record our time in Phong Nha, our rough bus ride to Hoi An, and our fun times spent in Hoi An.
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