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Winter Vacation - Hanoi/Halong Bay, Vietnam 2006/12/31

She was thick of fog, I tells ya

View Winter Vacation 2006 on agc_cwm's travel map.

We woke up really early (at about 6:45). I didn't get too much sleep because we were just above a busy street, and I don't think the horns stopped all night; needless to say, we were both pretty cranky. We checked out of our room and sat down to some breakfast. Our Halong Bay guide picked us up at the hotel, making sure we had our passports, and we followed him to the travel agency. We then waited for about a half hour for everyone else from our tour to arrive. We then walked to the bus, where they checked again to ensure everyone had their passports. Turns out that six people in our group didn't have their passports, and two others only had photocopies. We had to drive around Hanoi so we could pick up six passports, which took about an hour. An hour more I could've been in bed.

Our drive to Halong Bay was otherwise uneventful, except our driver was a maniac and passing everything he could. As we were driving, we noticed a few cool things. We had seen many products being carried on racks on the backs of bicycles, but when I saw a rack of nothing but water filled plastic bags with goldfish in them, I wish I had my camera ready. We never saw them again, so we think it must have been a New Year's Eve thing. We also drove by about 8 wedding ceremonies on our way to through Hanoi, which temporarily lifted our spirits out of being frustrated.

When we finally arrived at the slip, we had to wait to find out what boat we were getting on. Then we got on the boat, and we had to wait again for them to do something with our passports. The couple with the photocopies had to get off the boat to make better copies, so we had to wait for that to get done up too. After all the waiting, we finally got moving, 1.5 hours behind schedule. As soon as the boat pulled away from the wharf, we were served a lunch of fish, shrimp, rice and spring rolls. There was a lot of food, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Our first stop on our tour was the "surprising caves". Here we wandered through a series of three caves. Andrew thought the first one was cool, but the second was even cooler. And the third was even cooler than the other two combined. It was massive; it just kept going and going. They had installed coloured lights to illuminate the stalagmites, stalactites, and other rock formations. The rock formations included a "finger" pointing upwards, a turtle, a Buddha, two feet, a tiger, and a snake. I even saw a big bat flying through the cave. Waaay cool.

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Once we left the caves, we made a bee-line for another island with a small (man-made) beach where we could go swimming. Andrew chose to go in for a dip, but I decided to save my swimming for the Philippines. Three guys went in, and the word is that the water wasn't too bad (about 17 °C). We were supposed to stay on the island for about an hour, but it got dark soon after we arrived, so we left after about a half hour. The boat then sailed for the sheltered bay by the caves to drop anchor for the night.

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We were served dinner soon after we arrived in the bay. Again, mass amounts of food: fish, shrimp, chicken stir-fry, cabbage, spring rolls, and french fries (one of these things is not like the others...). After we stuffed ourselves, we settled in and played DeNiro, guess the next song, and cards with a couple from New York until about 10:30. Then Andrew and I went up to the upper deck to relax and look at the scenery. We counted about 40 other boats in the bay with us, each with a load of passengers. By 11:30 we were flat out exhausted and we went down to our cabin to hang out until the New Year arrived. We were both asleep by 12:05. Before we fell asleep, we did hear that damn ABBA song ("Happy New Year") being blared from every boat, including ours, wishing us a...

Happy New Year!

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Posted by agc_cwm 02:14 Archived in Vietnam

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