Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ha Long Bay (Hanoi, Vietnam) - Sep 2010


I had wanted very much to stay one night at Ha Long Bay, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites but chris was worried that I'd get seasick so we did a day trip instead. It's 3-hours one way so I'd strongly recommend an overnight stay if you have the time. We got the tour from South Pacific Travel which operates Phoenix Cruiser, recommended by Tripadvisor at USD$35 per person, inclusive of hotel transfer by shuttle bus, seafood lunch, a cave tour and kayaking (with life jacket! that's important cos it's our first time kayaking!)

What we like about this tour company:
+ the Chinese junk style cruise boats
+ the open upper deck
+ the guide is able to speak and understand English
+ relatively small group (about 15 of us)
+ lunch, although simple local fare, was delicious
+ they put in effort to set up the lunch tables, with white table cloth, glasses and all.

What we feel could be improved:
- we waited 45 mins for the shuttle bus =( we were told that it would arrive between 8am - 8:30am so we were there at 8:03am but the bus arrived only at 8:45am. We were so kancheong we called them twice haha.
- they divided the guests into groups of 4-5 per table for lunch. i find it unhygienic to share food with strangers
- the shuttle bus was rather crowded so you can forget about taking up two seats haha
- the toilet had no toilet paper
- they could serve a snack at around 4pm because by the time we reached the hotel, it was about 8:30pm and all the guests have not had dinner =( well, in the morning when i "ta pao" some bananas and croissants from the buffet table (do it discreetly... 2 bananas and 2 croissants won't make them bankrupt... =P), Chris was >.<||| very embarassed but when I gave him the food in the afternoon, he was thankful =) he also complained about why i had to bring 5 bottles of water but well, we finished them all =)
- the mid-bus journey rest stop was beside a souvenir shop and they'd stop there for half an hour

Although it was very foggy, we felt that Halong Bay is really very scenic and we enjoyed ourselves =) the kayaking was quite hilarious. i don't know why they put me in front... our kayak almost langah the rocks twice. i panicked...

me: AAAHHH!!! we're going to crash we're going to crash!!!
chris: steer left steer left!!! turn turn turn!!!
me: AAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

and we DID langah a cruise ship hahaha so we had to use our oars to push ourselves off... then i got us caught in a corner -.-

here are the pics =)