Down, Dragon!

Today we transferred to Halong Bay for our overnight cruse. But not before we had breakfast in the hotel. All our breakfasts and some other meals were included. This one had a good selection. I think Stu would have preferred to eat over the road …


… and maybe a little later in the day so he could have a drink, too.


This morning was our first encounter with our fellow travellers for the next 2 weeks. The other people on our bus from the airport yesterday were on the same trip but in a different group, so this morning we tentatively said “Hi” to the others in the foyer waiting for the bus.

The people sharing our holiday was one of the things I thought might be a problem on an organised tour. Maybe it’s attitude, maybe it’s luck, but so far, so good. Everyone seems lovely.

Some of the things we particularly noticed on our way to Halong Bay were …

  • very narrow houses – we were told that this was because there was a tax on the footprint so they built up rather than out.
  • heaps of rice fields (not surprising) with graves and shrines seemingly randomly placed in the middle of them. We found this very odd given the amount of water.
  • and ploughs being pulled by water buffalo. Most weren’t but we were a little surprised that some still were.

Sadly not much opportunity to take pictures from the bus until we stopped for lunch. And then the pics were all of civet coffee. We didn’t buy any, nor even try it.

Who was the the first person who said, “I’m going to roast that civet poo and make a drink out of it”? And what on earth were they thinking?

There were uncertain times and a rumour was circulating that Halong Bay was closed and no cruises were going out. But we were on our way so I assumed that wasn’t correct. And so it proved to be. Numbers of visitors were down but things were still operating.

Halong, we learnt, means descending dragon and derives from the legend of dragons descending from the heavens to help the Vietnamese people defeat their enemies.

We transferred to our boat …

… where we had welcome drinks …

… and were installed in our little cabin. We were upstairs so had a little balcony which was nice.


After a tasty lunch before heading to Surprise Cave. The scenery certainly is beautiful. And, although it seemed to us like there were a lot of boats, I believe it was much quieter than usual.

Our guide, Tony, told us it would be 4000 steps. The way he said it made it sound like 4000 steps up. I was relieved to find out that 4000 was the total.

The cave is impressive …

… and just a little bit rude.


Afterwards, some of the group went swimming. They reported back that the water wasn’t nice so our decision to stay on the boat for Happy Hour seemed like a good one.

A few decided to try their had at squid fishing later in the evening, but without success.


The rest of us just enjoyed the evening.


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