Ha Long Bay

Spent the last day in the Gulf of Tonkin at Ha Long Bay. There are thousands of uninhabited islands that surround some of the warmest waters I have ever encountered. My trip has been two days and one night on a boat called the Pheonix. I've met some incredible travelers from Australia and Canada also staying on the boat. Yesterday we all went kayaking it a cave and saw a family of monkeys that were camped out on the cliffs.

The islands are something out if Jurassic Park, rising high up into the sky with major cliffs jutting over the water. Last night we also went squid fishing on the raft, but clearly fishing successfully might be better left to the locals. The one thing that is baffling is how much food keeps getting shoved I my face. For every drop of sweat, there is another plate full of food.

In the afternoon we landed on Ti Top island and hiked up to the lookout on top. Then went for a swim in the Gulf after coming back down. As luck would have it I got stung twice by jellyfish in the first few minutes. Some lime juice for my leg and a margarita for my body quickened my recovery.  

This morning I rose for sunrise around 5:00 AM.  It was incredible to see the fishermen motoring around already by the time I rose. Breakfast was served at 6:30 AM and we were off to Surprise Cave by 7:30. The cave was marvelous- incredible to see the way that the water inhabited the inside a of a mountain for thousands of years before receding. After that we hopped back on the jumper raft and headed to the boat. Lunch was at a remarkably early 10:15 AM and following that we took a cooking course on how to make Vietnamese spring rolls! Another meal I probably didn't need but so so so good nonetheless. Now we're waiting for the bus back to Hanoi, about 3.5 hours. 

As beautiful as Ha Long Bay was, I will be happy to return to Hanoi. The congestion of boats and cruises is overwhelming and I couldn't help but feel on edge most of the time. The waters are overrun by your boats and pictures make everything look far more relaxing than it is.  

Henri Fitzmaurice