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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 12: Hello Halong Bay! I think I love you!

Okay, so we made it to Hanoi... not the most comfortable way (crappy sleeper bus, stocked full of roaches!), but we made it, and that was great news!  The van dropped us off at the bus station at 4:30am, where we caught a taxi into the Old Quarter, to wait, in the dark, on the street, in front of our tour company's office until 8am.  Uuughhh.  As we were sitting there, we (and a South Korean guy who was waiting with us) had a little run in with 2 female gypsies!  Luckily, nothing was stolen!

At 8:00am, the mini van arrived to drive us the 3 hours to Halong Bay!  YAY!

When we got to the harbor in Halong, we were so excited to check into the rooms and take showers and sleep for a bit!  But... our tour guide told us we would be going to a cave and hiking and then staying in a hotel on the island (which wasn't AT ALL what we had payed for!)... so, I put on my fiesty face and basically had a stern talk with him, and the lady at the tour office until it was fixed!  Aaron said he thought it was sexy when I got fired up, because he doesn't ever see me like that!  I'm not gonna lie... it did feel kind of good to stand my ground and make sure I wasn't being taken advantage of or grifted any more than I already have in the last 2 weeks!  Very long story short, they fixed it, and we were placed on a more expensive boat than we had originally paid for and were told not to tell the people on the boat how much we had payed!  Done and done!

My home for the next 20 hours! :)

My room was nice and cozy, with a beautiful ocean view!

After checking in, Aaron and I gave ourselves a little tour of the boat!  I have never been on a cruise, so this was kind of exciting for me!

Within a couple minutes, the engines started, lunch was being served, and we were headed for the bay...  There were 14 people on our boat, from all over the world: Denmark, Australia, Chile, Vietnam, Serbia, Germany, and then us!  Such a fun group of people! 

After lunch, most of us headed to the deck for some sun!

There were a few other boats in the area!  We are happy to be in Vietnam during the low season!  I'm sure when peak season rolls around there are tons of boats, swarming the area! 

It doesn't get much better than this!  We could have stayed here for the whole 17 days!

We set the timer on my camera to take 4 simultaneous pictures in order to get a nice one of us together on the bay... I thought the progression was kind of funny!

Around 2pm, we all hopped onto a smaller boat...

...said goodbye to our big boat, and headed for a cave on one of the 1969 islands in the bay!
Hang Sung Sot cave was discovered by the French in 1901.  It's gigantic... but more imense than any cave I had ever seen before! 

 At points, the cave's ceiling is over 90 feet high!!

We came out of the cave to this gorgeous view of the bay!

We got back on the mini bot and were taken to a fishing village where we could go kayaking if we wanted to; which WE DID! :)  Unfortunately, I deleted the pictures and videos off my underwater camera before they had fully loaded onto my computer tonight, so there are no pics to prove our adventure!  I will say though, it was awesome, and Aaron and I kayaked to a little beach on one of the islands where we did a little swimming and I, of course, searched for shells!

Then, it was time to go back to the big boat!  There she is, in all her glory!

Everyone was talking about wanting to swim, so Aaron grabbed a beer, me a Coke, and the two of us headed up to the top deck to check out jumping spots! 

The boys were much braver than the girls!  We liked jumping from the 1st deck!   Here's Aaron and the boys, jumping from the top! 

I had some awesome videos of everyone jumping... but like I said, they're ALL GONE!  (Well, except for this one, which 1/2 way downloaded before I deleted them off the camera card...the sound it off, and sort of in slow motion, but still fun!

 Poor Aaron almost had a breakdown when he found out I deleted them!  That goes to show what an aweosme videographer I am that he would be so bummed!  haha!  With that said, you're stuck with the pictures instead!

We all had so much fun swimming in the refreshing water, cheering each other on to jump from the boat, while the sunset over the bay! 

The sky was stunning shades of purple, orange, and blue!

At 6:45pm, our tour guide had a cooking class for us on the top deck, where he taught us to make Vietnamese spring rolls! 

I tried my hand at rolling a few! :)  I'll definitely be making these when I get back to Korea!  They're so simple!

This was our boat's server and cook!  She brought one of her stoves up to cook on the deck!

Dinner was ready shortly after. which was DELICIOUS, and more food than any of us could possibly have consumed!  We had develed crab, veggies, french fries (random), rice, soup, fresh fish, fried fish... and some other stuff I can't remeber!

Then, they started the karaeoke and squid fishing on the back of the boat!  Aaron headed up the squid fishing! :)  My little country boy! It must not have been squid season, because after an hour or so of all of us shaing turns holding the 5 poles, we only caught 1 little guy!  Super fun none the less!  We did see 2 huge jellyfish in the water!  Our guide ripped one of their legs off with his squid bait!

Aaron and I spent the last 2 hours of the night lounging on the top deck, star gazing, and enjoying the moonlight on the cliffs of the bay!  It was definitely one of the highlights of my life!  This pictures obviously doesn't do it justice AT ALL because you can't see everything...

Just take my word for it; There were clear skies, bright stars, calm waters, beautifully lit boats nearby, a shooting star, and the love of my life next to me!
It wasn't just good... it was down right perfect!


  1. Ah Jilly, that sounds too wonderful for words!
    So glad you're having so much fun! Missing you and can't wait to skype when you're back. Lots of Love Gilly-Flowers x