Joining a group for a Ha Long Bay boat sailing trip
To reach Ha Long Bay from Hanoi, it takes a 3-hour bus trip. I am joining a Ha Long Bay boat sailing adventure with an international company of Canadians, Dutch, Scottish, and English people. All groups follow a more or less similar package. Therefore around 300 tourist boats are sailing Ha Long Bay every day. After all, this is one of Vietnam`s highlights while touring this country.
Sailing between limestone karst cliffs until sunset
First, we visit a cave. Afterward, the passengers that booked a 2-day-trip can go kayaking. The others including myself, on a 3-day Ha Long Bay boat sailing trip, can chill on the deck of the boat. Later on, we sail further between the limestone karst cliffs, until sunset. The views of the bay are really stunning. After every next cliff we pass, there is another marvelous scenery waiting. Endless beauty, that is how I would describe this Ha Long Bay boat sailing tour.
Drinking party with a Scottish couple
The food served for dinner is elementary, barely more than a means to survive. I start to play cards with three English girls sitting at my table. Eventually, the evening results in a copious drinking party; the Scottish couple in our group definitely knows how to pour down large amounts of beer. We finish our last drinks on top of the boat`s deck. At 1 o’clock we displace to our cabins to catch some sleep.
Strenuous trek at Cat Ba island
The next morning, after breakfast we moor at Cat Ba island. A short drive by minibus brings us a bit more inland, where we make a short trek to a peak at 225 meters altitude in the island`s nature reserve. The climb is quite strenuous to reach the viewpoint at the top. Because you always have to pay attention to where you put your feet, you can not really enjoy the environment. As a result, I end up enduring two days of stiffness in my legs after this steep climb. Apart from the physical effort, the trek in itself is not particularly interesting.
Fishing with the boatsmen
Upon arrival at the hotel, I am told that I have to share my room. As I did pay extra for a single room, I insist upon getting one. After checking with the booking agency in Hanoi, this gets confirmed. In the afternoon the next organizational flaw manifests. Initially, I am not allowed to go kayaking. A new verification in Hanoi follows, and it is okay. But after all, I do not go kayaking. Instead, I decide to go fishing with the boatsmen. And I manage even to catch a fish. The fishing takes place on small railings on the water.
Resigning offers while strolling into Cat Ba town
After dinner, I walk into Cat Ba town on my own. I am continually being addressed for a massage and more, I resign all offers. To end the day I consume two beers at one of the busy stalls at the quay and go to bed early. The next morning we drive back to the boat, and we sail to Halong City again. From there we head back to Hanoi.
Photogenic views of limestone karst isles during my Ha Long Bay boat sailing
As a final balance of my Ha Long Bay boat sailing excursion, I would say the trip was worthwhile, especially the various photogenic views of limestone karst isles in different bays. But the extra features of the journey are just time filling. The group I joined was surely OK. Above all, trying to book a visit to Ha Long Bay on your own would have been quite difficult and above all expensive.