Go: Halong Bay - Vietnam (Part 1)

You might remember a while ago we went on a bit of trip where I took a bazillion photos, and promised that I would be writing about it 'soon'.  Well, it's not exactly soon, but I have finally got around to sorting out a few photos to share with you.

Last year I finally convinced the Boy to take me to Vietnam.  We headed off on Thursday after work, and, after spending the night in Hanoi, we headed on to Halong Bay.

Halong Bay is one of those places that people rave about so much that you wonder if it can ever live up to your expectations.  Trust me. It does.

Halong Bay is breathtakingly beautiful.  I could stare at those limestone karsts forever.  After taking about a million photos of Halong Bay, most of which look basically the same, I've concluded that I am not a landscape photographer.  If you want to see amazing pictures of Halong Bay, try Google Images.  If you're happy to see some pretty holiday snaps, read on.

I'm not going to lie, the bus ride from Hanoi to Halong Bay is not pleasant.  I was hoping to catch up on some of the sleep I didn't get the night before, but honestly, anyone who can sleep on that bus deserves a medal (at least they would if sleeping was a sport, which it's obviously not, but possibly should be).  I felt like I was in a tumble dryer.  Half way there is the obligatory stop at a shop set up to sell wares made by victims of Agent Orange, and to relieve yourself.  I had read the warnings about this "tourist trap" on the web, so I was pleasantly surprised.  Firstly I was expecting toilets somewhat like the ones I have become accustomed to from bus rides around Cambodia, so I was pleasantly shocked to find the toilets spotless and fully equipped with paper and soap.  The shop itself is huge and I did not feel at all pressured to buy anything.  It was a great opportunity to see people at work creating stunningly beautiful embroidery and laquerwork.  

After having a wander around the shop we spent another two hours in the tumble dryer before arriving at our destination.  We were efficiently shuttled to our chosen vessel, Treasure Junk.

You know all those beautiful photos you've seen of teak wood junks floating around the bay?  Well, they're a thing of the past.  Thanks to a government regulation, all the junks are now Mediterranean white.  Which on a grey day like the day we arrived makes them all look a bit dull.

Choosing a junk deserves a post of its own.  But suffice to say, we were very impressed with the Treasure Junk.  We had treated ourselves to an upgrade to their suite, which I would highly recommend.  This was the view from our cabin...

The suite was prepared with a plate of fresh fruit and a huge arrangement of fresh flowers.  We had a jacuzzi and our own private terrace...

I would have loved to sit down with a book then and there, but it was time for lunch.

Just one of the almost 10 courses we had for lunch.

After what must have been a 10-course lunch our group headed off kayaking.  We cheekily stayed behind to rest on the sun deck.

Can you blame us?
Dinner was another wonderful 7-course affair.  I was too busy eating to take photos... but I did snap the menu for you.

Followed by happy hour cocktails and a screening of the Top Gear Vietnam special. Top Gear is one of my all time favourite shows and the Vietnam show is very funny, definitely watch it if you're heading over any time soon.

By the time the show was over we were happy to retire to our room, relax in the jacuzzi and get good night's sleep.

Seriously, the bathroom in that suite was bigger than in most hotel rooms I've stayed in.
I've blogged about the rest of our time in Halong/Bai Tu Long here and here. And I posted some general advice here.

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