Days 3 and 4: Halong Bay

We drove 4 hours to Halong Bay, where we boarded an Indochina Junk (Junk is a type of boat, mind you, and not a mention of quality).

The boat was fantastic; I had visions of sleeping lined up on an uncovered deck with 20 of my newest friends. But no; we had a tiny but charming berth, which included a shower!

Halong Bay is a UNESCO site, and you can see why from my pictures. It reminded me of Cappadocia, but at sea. Legend has it that there are 1,967 “mountains”, the same as the year that Ho Chi Minh passed. Truth, tale tale, or propaganda- who knows?

Our guide was refreshingly candid about the crowds (too many), and the tourist related construction boom (good for the economy, but making things more expensive for locals). And nuanced about the floating fishing villages (very hard living, but very clean)

We kayaked for about 45 minutes, took a cave tour, went for a chilly but refreshing swim, and had an 8 course meal for dinner. And Halong Beer, of course.

We anchored for the night and watched the stars rise. Bed was incredibly dark and quiet.

The tour of the floating village and oyster farm was both magical and provoking: most of the villagers have left for the city where opportunity is better (health, economic, longevity, education). The government supports this, while also trying to preserve the village for those who wish to remain.

We lucked out on the weather; it had been cool and cloudy, but we got sun.

On our way back to Hanoi. How about them Seahawks? Fun to see that headline! And then a long night train to Sa Pa this evening.

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