The trip to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi did not start off well. The bus picked us right in front of the hotel at 8 a.m. sharp, and because it was still early, I dozed off. Well, that would’ve been fine, except the fact that when I woke up, I found myself sleeping on a Vietnamese guy I sat next to in the bus. Embarassed, I apologized, but he didn’t speak any English. We got to the harbor at noon, and a small boat transported us to our cruise, ‘the Poseidon’.
Yep, I realized that this was also the name of that ship that sunk in the movie where everyone died miserably. So of course the first thing that I checked was that I knew where the floaties are (that way I can beat the competition and kick everyone else away from it and swim my own self to safety).
As the ship sailed away from the shores, we entered a region entirely different altogether. I was transported into a world of Avatar. No, seriously, I’m not kidding. All of my friends concluded that this must be the place where they got inspired to make the movie. It looks exactly the same!
In the evening the tour guide took us caving. Apparently there are hundreds of caves in Ha Long Bay, some of which remains undiscovered. Caves are considered sacred for Vietnamese, and many of the stalagmite formations are associated with the shapes of animals that they could worship. We came across a stalagmite that was shaped like a (excuse my language) man’s private parts. “This is shaped like a man’s private parts,” the tour guide said. “People come to get blessings from it so that they may produce lots of healthy children.”
“There’s the penis, but I don’t see any balls,” A white British woman pointed out. The tour guide pretended not to hear this, because he probably didn’t have the answer. My friends and I pretended not to hear this, because it was embarrassing.
Afterwards we went kayaking in the heart of Ha Long Bay. We went through caves into hidden lagoons that are amazing, and when we screamed it echoed all around. The water is green, though not very clear, and the limestone formations made crooks and hidden lagoons and small shores that were beautiful to explore. By sunset we were sitting at the sunning decks watching the sun disappear behind a clutter of limestone hills.
One word: mesmerizing. If I have to list down 100 places to see before you die, this should definitely be one of them.
Places to eat: The cruise offers dine-in meals. Upon booking the cruise, we specified that we wanted vegetarian meals and seafood only. In return we were served some really nice stuffed crabs, stir fry squids and veggies. The food is overall simple but delish.
The Poseidon cruise! Looks like an old style junk, which plays well with the environment.
Within one of the gorgeous caves around the bay.
Kayaking around the hills, lagoons and caves. Amazing experience.
Sunset on the cruise. Quite nothing like I've ever seen before.