22 May Hanoi Ha Long Road HA LONG BAY AM: Transfer to Ha Long City through the Red River Delta. PM Transfer to Bai Tho Boat for lunch with fresh seafood, then cruise Ha Long Bay. Stop at Titop Island to relax and swim. “Relax under the starlit sky before retiring to the comfort of your cabin.”
Ha Long Bay is one of the most beautiful and romantic sights in all of Vietnam, if not the world. (Liam, we will go back together one day...) As the Lonely Planet guide describes it, "majestic and mysterious, inspiring and imperious..." The name Ha Long means "where the dragon descends into the sea": the Bay and its many islands created from the thrashing of the dragon as it wriggled its way to the shore.
We drove from Hanoi early this morning and arrived at the Bay by late morning. We won't be staying near the bay...we'll be staying ON the bay, in a motorized junk By a stroke of luck, our twenty-person party has scored a boat big enough to hold all of us, and small enough not to share with any other groups. So, in essence, Private Cruise on the Victoria 4!!!. A smaller motorized ferry took us out to the main ship.
Lunch was a fabulous seafood feast, with a complementary glass of wine (and the prices ensure that this will be our only glass). When they brought out the first course, steamed crab, I nearly swooned (Avie loves her seafood!). Next we had shrimp, then octopus, and finally, broiled fish.
The afternoon was spent in gliding around the islands that dot the Bay, and we all piled into the small boat and stopped at one point to explore Sung Sot (“Amazing Cave,”), a large series of caves on one island. Then we returned and after anchoring in a quiet area, we had a swim from the main ship. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive to jump off the second story of the ship--I am afraid of heights and it requires not only the --but I felt I had to keep up the honor of the professors, as Ken had already (literally) taken the plunge.
Here is a great photo of the students jumping in:
Here is a photo taken from the water (Ken held the camera with one hand as he treaded water!) I am standing to the extreme right (discretely covered with a towel) as I attempt to gather enough courage to make the jump. (There will be no photos of me in my bathing costume...I can't risk becoming an Internet pin-up sensation)
The evening was quiet and cool. Sunset came early and the ship dropped anchor for the night.
We watched Indochine in the dining room after another seafood dinner that could not be beat. I celebrated with a glass of Jameson's (pretty pricey but worth it!) Our cabins were cozy and beautiful.