After the mess that was Sapa, we continued on our tour throughout the northern part of Vietnam. Did we mention we booked a tour? It was about a week long, inclusive of all transportation, food, and lodging. It was definitely the easiest way to see the highlights of the area efficiently. After Sapa, we took our 2nd night train back to Hanoi and with high hopes of warmer, sunnier weather, started our boating cruise around Ha Long Bay and surrounding islands.
Our first stop was Ha Long Bay which is quite magnificent, even in crappy weather. It’s a collection of nearly 2000 majestic islands in the Gulf of Tonkin. The clouds had followed us from Sapa but luckily the rain and mist decided to go elsewhere. After a hearty lunch on the boat, we got off at Dau Go Cave, one of the 3 caves throughout Ha Long Bay and was humongous. Definitely way way WAY bigger than the cave in Pai. Well, I can’t say that for certain but it definitely seemed bigger. Probably because it was lit in a kaleidoscope of colors and packed with tourists (vs us, a lil ol’ lady and her kerosene lamp). As per usual, photos just dont do it justice and perhaps Ho Chi Minh said it best: No visitor can convey the beauty of its scenery, so everybody should visit the cave to enjoy its beauty themselves. ‘Nuff said.
After the cave it was back on the boat for more cruising and dinner. It should be noted that “cruising” was the word of choice of our tour guide Ken who was just a doll. Perhaps the nicest and most genuine tour guide I’ve encountered so far. Anyways, I proved to be the saving grace as the speakers were broken and there was no wifi on the boat for people to distract themselves as I came prepared with music and speakers. After 3 or 4 glasses of wine, it was time to go to bed. Overnight we’d be cruising to Monkey Island.