Halong Bay

As expected, Halong Bay is truly magnificent. The reason to come to Cat Ba was twofold. Firstly to see a part of Halong Bay not normally covered by tours from Halong Bay City. Secondly to do it on the cheap, as being in Cat Ba means you are in the thick of it and a one-day tour is enough, no need for expensive overnight boat trips.

It didn't start perfectly. I dropped a bottle of water on my toe and it hurt like hell all day. I wouldn't be surprised if the toenail came off someday soon.

We started out from Cat Ba Town's tourist harbour, a short bus ride from town. From there we caught the boat out through a floating village inhabited by local fishermen and their families. In no time at all we were in Lan Ha bay, a truly beautiful bit of the Cat Ba island coastline with towering rocks and the odd fishing boat. The weather was pretty overcast but visibility was OK. Even though the light wasn't perfect the view made up for it, and I beat my record of photos taken in a day. It would probably be even better in sunlight, or even in mist, but as it stood it reminded me both of the Antarctic and of the Galapagos islands, two of the most amazing tours we've been on.

After Lan Ha bay you come into Halong Bay proper. We then headed for Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace) Grotto, recently discovered and only opened to the public about four years ago. It was well lit and quite easy to walk around. The kids had a great time inside, especially since in one of the rooms (the "party room") you could bang on the stalactites and make a drum sound.

After the cove we headed to a lovely area for a spot of sea kayaking. These kayaks were more comfortable with the kids than the ones in Cambodia, and we had a dry bag to put the camera in. However navigating was a bit more complicated (in this case having to keep up with the group) and the camera less accessible, so there were less photo opportunities. The hardest bit was the first cave. With the low tide we managed to get completely stuck round the first bend. As we were right behind the guide we messed it up for all the rest of the kayaks. In the end the guide came back, saying he couldn't go further because of the tide. I suspect he said that to make us feel better.

Next cave (a short tunnel really) was much better. But the tide was too low for the third cave to we had to double back. By then Aisha had fallen asleep on my lap - she can fall asleep anywhere. We were nearly back at the boat, just one more cave / tunnel so I didn't have to put my back out trying to avoid hitting her on the head.

On the way back we stopped for a spot of swimming by a small deserted beach. The water was pretty cold but Lucas and I braved in (I wasn't too keen on the idea, I'm more of a warm seas swimmer myself). Then we headed home, with a beautiful sunset (the clouds had cleared up a bit) to accompany us on the way. Magic.

No comments:

Post a Comment