Food, Photos and Travel

Friday, September 08, 2006

Vietnam- Halong Bay

It was another night train that took me back to Hanoi from Sapa. The night train isn't so bad. There are cheap, silk sleeping bags all over Sapa and Hanoi that make the beds quite comfortable. Xanax helps too.

I had a hotel room briefly in the morning and then it was time to make the 3 hour drive to Halong Bay. We picked up some tour-mates along the way... a mother and daughter (Susan and Annie) from the San Francisco bay area. They were great traveling companions for the next 2 days. The modernly paved road made it's way through cities and towns, all with the same cement architecture, mountains and limestone karsts, and of course, rice paddies. We arrived at Halong Bay at noon, and the pier is flooded with tourists from all nationalities. Dozens of junk ships in all different sizes (and conditions) were lined up waiting to take passengers on daily or overnight cruises throughout the bay.

All of the ships set sail in generally the same direction, ours among the nicer of the bunch. The limestone cliffs were beautiful, the way they rose out of the sea, and faded into mist. Shortly after boarding, they started serving us lunch. The seafood, like the traffic in Hanoi, started coming and just didn't stop!

Throughout the bay there are caves with enormous caverns and spectacularly lighted rock formations, beaches and even little floating houses and convenience stores. We stopped to explore one of these caves, and then had a swim at a small beach nearby that was crowded with summer tourists. There was a tough climb to a look out at the top of one of the karsts, where you can watch the sunset.

Dinner consisted of even more seafood then lunch, and was equally as delicious. We had stuffed crab, squid, fish, shrimp, loads of vegetables and some pork stir fry, rice and spring rolls, and a few things I didn't recognize. There was a great feeling of satisfaction from everyone as we retired to bed shortly after.

I wanted to wake up for the sunrise the next morning, but after spending the previous two nights on the train and a simple floor mat, there was no way I was getting out of that bed. The morning was beautiful, though, with more food and swimming in the bay. On our way back to Halong City, we encountered a brief, but torrential, thunder and lightning storm.


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