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Ha Long Bay

Written on: Tuesday November 27th, 2007

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

Boarding the bus after an omelette breakfast which looked awfully like two fried eggs, we made our 3 hour journey east to the UNESCO site of Ha Long Bay. Our guide, a Vietnamese man named Thoung began by introducing what we'd be doing on our cruise around some of the 1,969 islands in the Ha Long Bay area. Sadly this wasn't good enough for one of the other tourists on our bus, the slightly over-powering, control freak of an Italian, named Ptolemy.

Ptomely, with his weathered grey beard and bald head, resembling Catweasel, was a tour guide himself in Pompei, Italy and took it upon himself to take over the microphone and individually interview the rest of the buses' passengers on their heritage, travels and thoughts. It wasn't too bad actually as he got the 13 of us all talking and discussing where we'd already been and where we'd be heading next, which led to some good recommendations for where Dave and I will be moving on to in the near future. The craziness came when we stopped off for a brief break and before our alloted time was up to be back on the bus, Ptolemy was rounding everybody up and counting everyone on to the bus.

Arriving in Ha Long we boarded our home for the next 24 hours or so, a Vietnamese Junk boat, and quickly made our way to the roof where we enjoyed the hottest weather we've had so far on our trip, with the sun beating down and the temperature reaching what must have been about 28 degrees. Oh yes, the jeans and jumpers are now well and truly packed at the bottom of the bag and the shorts are back forever!

After a great lunch, enjoying the Hanoi speciality of Vietnamese Spring Rolls we visited the Sung Sot Cave (Amazing Cave) which wasn't all that amazing really, just like any other regular cave that you've ever been to in your life, but it did have a nice view out of the bay we'd anchored up in on the way back down to the boat.

Then Dave and I grabbed a two-man kayak, and wanting to be different headed in a completely different direction to everybody else to see what looked like in the distance to be ancient ruins on a far-off island, but what turned out to be a crap 1990's run down demolished building. Meanwhile the others had kayaked through an underwater passage and seen wild monkeys climbing up the rockside. We are fools!

Anchored up for the night we were once again fed, then felt it was only right that we watered ourselves, and so began a night of drinking and drinking games on the roof of our Junk boat, with our Belgium, Dutch, Australian and Kiwi friends who accompanied us on our cruise.

The following morning saw us cruise up to Cat Ba Island to drop off most of the others there, as they were staying the one more night, while we picked up a group of really annoying English folk who had already stayed there the night previous and headed back towards Ha Long Bay. We spent the morning once again soaking up the sun, despite the advice on our anti-malerial tablets instructions telling us that the the drugs would make us more susceptible to the sun. Still we hadn't seen the sun for quite some time and were determined to worship it, in fact I was even happy to leap from the top deck of the boat in my approval of it's shining.