I won’t lie over the past year and half John and I have started to collect quite a few visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ha Long Bay was added to our list during our stint in Vietnam. An awesome thing about expat life that is most of the friends we’ve made in Japan have the same sense of adventure as John and I do, therefore we sometimes end up in the same country when traveling. Val and Garrett moved to Japan the same time we did and we both happened to be in Vietnam at the same time, so a little over night boat cruise through the bay was definitely necessary. Because let’s be honest, drinks on a boat just aren’t as much fun without good friends!
We had booked a 2 day, one night junk cruise and let me tell you, a trip to Ha Long Bay is a definite must. It maybe a four-hour drive from Hanoi, but honestly it’s totally worth it! The history of Ha Long Bay is actually pretty interesting. The bay itself is made up of thousands of limestone islands and to be honest I’m not exactly how big this place is, but we rode around for two days and it seemed pretty darn huge. “Ha Long” means “, Bay of the Descending Dragons”, which apparently came from a French guy who thought he saw a huge
Loch Ness Monster sea snake, and therefore the legend of the Asian dragon came forth. It is easy to imagine yourself in How to Train Your Dragon and no joke Ha Long Bay could totally be in an episode of Game of Thrones.
For those wondering about what a junk boat is, no worries I also didn’t know. Apparently, a junk boat is a traditional Chinese sailing ship and they litter Ha Long Bay, as I think a day trip or over night cruises are the most popular way to see the world heritage site. Here’s a photo of our boat:
After cruising around the rainy bay and some lunch, we hopped off the boat onto a beach to explore a cave and do some kayaking. It poured the rain while we kayak our way around the limestone islands, but at least we were finally cool in Vietnam…I should also note that John and I need to stop kayaking together, because I’m convinced one of these days it will end in divorce 😜 ok I’m being dramatic, but really why is kayaking so hard for us? #marriage
Any-who, I digress…so back to that whole world heritage site thing. UNESCO really tries to protect the bay as much as possible, which means minimizing tourists mucking it up as much as possible, this includes limited swimming the bay. However, our boat captain (who was basically the Vietnamese version of Mr. Chow from the Hangover) convinced who ever needed convincing to let us swim around the beach. This turned out to be a good thing, because the designated swimming spot we were going to sail to after kayaking happened to be infested with poisonous jellyfish, so you know good-looking out Mr. Chow.
After goofing off for a while and successfully avoiding jelly fish stings, we headed back to the boat for dinner and sub-par sunset due to the weather.
After dinner we were provided some seriously legit entertainment from the crew, captain, and chef. As well as some pretty seriously legit food art to look at (random, I know). Overall, it really made for a super pleasant evening. Check out the video of the cruise chef…this guy apparently came from the middle of nowhere Vietnam and he doesn’t even speak Vietnamese, apparently it’s an indigenous language from his village. I mean the world guys, it’s such an interesting place.
The next day before heading back to Hanoi, we ventured around a traditional fishing village in the bay. There are only about 100 people who live in this village and they live here year round. Take a look.
Well thanks for getting through the photo dump of Ha Long Bay. It really was an incredible place and worth a stop when visiting Vietnam.
Stay tuned for my final blog installment from our trip to Indochina, Cambodia. Thanks agin for following along!
Until next time! じゃまた！Ja Mata!