«Not visited Vietnam if not visited Halong Bay!” The words are from our guide for the day, Tom. We’re on a 3,5 hours bus ride from Hanoi to Halong bay.
Before we have breakfast Katja and I take a walk around the lake. There are plenty of people out in the early hours. There are some playing badminton, some are doing aerobics, others tai chi or Qi Gong. Then we find some working out using benches and trees. No gym needed to keep fit and healthy.
The bus picked us up at the hotel at 8:30 and we headed towards Halong bay. Tom, our guide talked about Vietnam for the first hour. I can’t say I can relay it all but some of his points are as follows:
In Vietnam, especially in the north, the babies get a nickname in addition to their given name. The given name is a beautiful name, but the nickname is an ugly one. This is to make the gods steer clear of them, and not take them away. Our guides ugly name means shrimp, and his brothers is oyster as his sister was snail. Lucky him that kept the nickname as a grown up.
He also talked about the difference in weather and seasons between the north and south. In north they have the full four seasons and in the south they have hot and hotter.
Vietnam is a long, slim and sexy country. Like their women. I know it’s sexist, but don’t shoot the messenger.
Ho Chi Minh city is the preferred city for the young. More nightlife, more party and hotter weather means less clothing.
We took a pit stop at a place that had more chocolate for sale than any other place I’ve been. We drank over priced teas and coffee and got back on the bus.
At Halong bay we could easily understand what kind of mayhem there is in high season. Luckily for us we’re here on the low season and was guided through the harbour and onto the boat.
We started out with lunch and shared a table with three Korean guys. Nothing special about lunch, but the Korean guys ate shrimps with the shell. They bit over so the head and tail was left out, but ate the rest. I had to try it to. It didn’t taste all that bad, but nothing that will catch on in Norway I guess. There is also a different culture when it comes to sharing food. They eat with chop sticks and use the same sticks to take food from the shared plates. When in Vietnam…
The rocks at Halong bay is a UNESCO heritage site, and are quite spectacular. We’re so lucky it’s nice and clear weather as we sail around. There are lots of boats out here. One guy says it’s about 500 in total, even though they’re not all out today. We sit on an upper deck and take loads of pictures.
At one point we go ashore and into a cave. We all had pictures in our head of what we though it would look like, and all of them were wrong. It’s hard to use words to describe it. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
And we made a little video, just for our nephew Gustav. (In Norwegian)
After the cave tour we went back to shore. We spent around three and a half hour on the boat and in the cave in total.
Out on the other side from the harbour we got the message:”Bus in the shop, something is wrong. Ready in ten minutes.” At this point we thought we were going to spend the night there, but no. About ten minutes later the bus arrived and we got back on board.
There is nothing like an iPad and some videos to kill time on a bus ride. Suddenly we’re back at the pit stop and enter the store. At the same time three-four large busses with Chinese people. Damn! I know I’m stereotyping again, but anymore pushy and rude people are hard to find in Asia. If I ever came close to a panic attack, where I’d go all bonanza and mayhem, it’s here. I just waded through the sea of harking, pushing, sitting, burping and farting Chinese and out into fresh air. We waited for the bus and scrambled on board to get out of there.
Back at the hotel we’ve agreed to go straight for dinner. It’s already eight o’clock and we move toward the restaurant. Katja freezes in the street and ask me if I have the camera. Nope, haven’t had it in hours. We turn the backpack upside down and there is no camera to be found. Damn! Where is it? Back to the hotel and make them call the tour operator. We are trying to empty the camera to the pc every night so we don’t lose to many pictures should something like this happen. We emptied out last night, and today we can get a copy of Mette’s pictures if needed.
We go to dinner and enjoy a meal for the third time at the same place. It’s just a short walk from the hotel, which suites us fine tonight.
Back at the hotel our receptionist is happy to inform us that the camera is found, and already returned to our hotel. Lucky us!
After such a long day it’s good to hit the sack and I’m out as my head his the pillow.