Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No3 - Halong Bay

Halong Bay, a couple of hours east of Hanoi, is a UNESCO listed heritage region. It consists of thousands of limestone islands in this bay mostly uninhabited, except for floating fishing villages. Pirates and various Independence fighters have used this place as a hideaway over the years, esp as some of the islands have wonderful cave formations through them.
We stayed overnight on a junk, as most tourists do. the scene at the harbour was chaos. We had to climb over three boats before we could get onto ours. We had two rooms and Henry shared a bed with me (again). No rats that we could see, apparently this was a bonus. Food was awful (battered unpeeled, lukewarm prawns with cold chips,yum yum) but the views were magnificent, if a little misty.
We explored one of the islands with two cave systems, then stopped at another small island (recently seen on the Amazing Race) for swimming (in the middle of winter, I don't think it was even vaguely tempting).
Next morning we went kayaking around a fishing village and around one of the islands, good fun.
I think this is the only place on our trip that would have been better in spring or summer, when the skies were clear, but still well worth the excursion.

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