Ha Long Bay, Vietnam: The descending dragon

Monday, January 23, 2017

After Hanoi, cruising the Ha Long Bay was next on our itinerary.
It is one of the most impressive world heritage sites that we have ever been to.
The entire area is misty and riddled with limestone ridges emerging from the water, resembling the back of a dragon that lies dormant in the bay. This is where the area takes its name from, Ha Long Bay meaning Descending dragon.
I recommend you to be very careful when choosing the boat with which to go on the cruise. We have read some horror stories of boats infested with rodents or even ones that caught on fire and they were usually the ones that offer a very very cheap price.
We decided on Viola Cruise and we booked a tour for 2 days and 1 night via Booking.com. 

We got picked up from our hotel by the Viola Cruise bus and we drove for like 2 hours until we got to a pier where we embarked on the boat. We checked into our lovely room and started exploring the boat, excited of our first overnight cruise. 
We reached a fishing village which we visited from a bamboo boat. There were up to 20 families living in that village. Apparently many years ago there were about 100 families living there, but they only had one primary school so the villagers could not be educated past 4th grade unless they went inland, which was pretty difficult to do. Also the amount of garbage that was thrown in the water was doing a lot of damage to the whole ecosystem of Ha Long Bay so the government decided to move the majority of the families inland and imposed a strict pollution code.

Traditional houses in the fishing village

Later on we visited a pearl farm and afterwards we kayaked along the bay.
Upon returning on the boat we were greeted with wine and fresh fruits.
The dinner was la pièce de résistance as they cooked a 4 course royal dinner, like the ones the king and queen used to have.

The famous spring rolls in a unique design

By night you could either party on the deck or join the crew in squid fishing.

Next day, we planned on waking up at 5 AM to attend the Tai Chi class…needless to say we didn’t.
We went to visit a cave, but it was so unimpressive that I cannot even remember the name. However to get to the cave we had to climb a bunch of stairs and from the top we could see a beautiful view of Ha Long Bay.

Upon returning we had a short cooking class, where I learned to make summer rolls (just like spring rolls, but not fried). I have also learned to eat a lot of them. Can’t help it if I’m such a good cook!
Our journey was almost over, so after lunch we got back to the bus and returned to Hanoi.

It was a truly unique and wonderful experience cruising along the impressive Ha Long Bay and it is definitely a must if you ever plan a visit to Vietnam.
Next, my favourite place in Vietnam, the colourful Hoi An.


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