So last weekend, about 20 out of the 30 of us students went to Halong Bay for two days. The others also went, but they did a single day tour rather than an overnight. Halong Bay is one of the "must-see" sights in Vietnam, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The tale of the bay is that while the Viet people were fighting foreign aggressors, dragons came down from the sky and spat out pearls that changed into jade stone islands which knocked out the enemy. These islands are what now makes up the breath-taking view that Halong Bay offers.
So the twenty of us got a two day tour and spent the night on the boat. We basically rented our own boat for those two days, because it was only our group on the tour. We were picked up early in the morning from our school in Hanoi and took a bus/van 4 hours east to the coast of Vietnam. From there we took a small boat out to our private boat where we were greeted by Tiger, our tour guide for the weekend.
Not only did we have our own boat, but we also had a dining room with karaoke and a wonderful cooking staff that fed us so well while we were there!
And we had the whole top deck to lay out, read, and enjoy the beautiful weather with great company
After eating lunch, we were taken to a huge cave (it's a bit made up and touristy, but I'm not complaining) that we got to explore, and then we got to go kayaking in the sunset. While we were kayaking, Tiger took us through a little cove where the other side of the rock was where a large group of monkeys lived! They were swinging from vines and climbing on the walls of the rocks, making noise and throwing coconuts! I was hoping one might jump in the kayak, but no such luck...
We then came back to our boat, had dinner and stayed out on the top deck sharing stories and bonding even more (it seems like we'll soon be out of new things to tell each other because we learn so much everyday about each other's lives) Then we were soothed to sleep by the waves of the ocean :)
The next morning we woke up to calm seas being hovered by a light fog. We woke up early to hike up to a beautiful view, but because of the fog, we couldn't see much. It was still a great way to start the day though!
Then we boated along for the rest of the day, passing several floating villages and boat carts offering little snacks to eat. We bought some Oreos from this woman :)
It was really cool watching the fog clear up as the day went on because other boats would emerge from the fog and I felt like I was in one of the Pirate movies.
Unfortunately, Halong Bay is not well taken care of, and the water is getting more and more polluted with pollution from boats and trash from the people. It's quite sad that such an amazing place is becoming so polluted..
We were eventually dropped back off at the dock, and driven back to Hanoi. It was such a great little escape weekend, and luckily we left for our rural visit in Sapa a week after returning from Halong Bay. I'll write an update on Sapa in the next few days!