Halong Bay

I’m still always surprised at how far a dollar can go when you’re traveling outside the US. I think the original reason I went to Vietnam was to see Halong Bay and the way to do it is on a cruise.  There are a few options but for me, it boiled down to a party cruise or non-party cruise.  I know it sounds strange but I had about had it with drunk hostel parties so I went for the non-party option.  I got a cruise for $95 for two days and one night, and for once it wasn’t the cheapest option! I think if I had it to do over, I’d do a party cruise.  It’s probably the way to go as a solo-traveler.  That being said, I had a great time.

It turned out to be really nice with a comfortable boat and good food. The only weird part was there were only two of us on the boat who were traveling alone, me and a South Korean man named Jun, so we had to share a room and a kayak and all of that. He was a good sport about it even though he barely spoke English. There was also a Chinese family, a couple from Russia and a group from Germany. When the Russians asked me where I was from and I said the US, the man replied by punching his two fists together and making an angry face. I assumed that was symbolic of the US-Russia relationship and laughed. I think he felt bad because he immediately kissed my hand and said, “so sorry, you a very lovely lady.”

The bay itself was incredibly beautiful. It was so nice to be on a boat quietly winding between the islands. We kayaked through the tunnel in the bottom picture. I said, “it’s really pretty here, isn’t it Jun?” He said, “Yes, but all I am thinking of is Avatar.” It rained most of the time but it is so warm you don’t really notice. You could sit out on the upper deck and see schools of fish jumping out of the water in unison below. At night all the boats light up with their lights shining across the water. There’s a bar onboard the boat and like everywhere here, karaoke too. Little long boats pull up alongside us selling wine and snacks. It’s incredibly peaceful.  It’s also funny because you look out on the bay and you can hear the party boats playing music late into the night.