After a quick flight from DaNang to Hanoi, a driver picked us up for a three hour drive to HaLong Bay. I enjoyed the scenery on the drive, and tried not to pay attention to the crazy Vietnamese driving practices! Upon arrival at the hotel, we were served Vietnamese tea, which was pretty customary.
The town we were in was a little odd. There were just a few nice hotels, in a rather undeveloped area near a marina. There was basically nothing to walk to, and no restaurants other than the hotel restaurant. In other words, we were in the middle of nowhere. Upon check-in, we saw the hotel staff setting up for a party outside, with a live band, right under our window. “Wonderful”, I thought, “so much for getting some sleep tonight.”
The hotel clerk explained that there may be some noise due to the staff party that evening, then invited us to join them at the staff party. It was a Lunar New Year celebration. I was skeptical at first, I felt like they were just trying to be nice, but Matt insisted that we should attend. And, since there was nothing else in the vicinity, we agreed.
The table next to ours, had a bunch of young guys, saying the equivalent of “1,2,3 CHEERS,” and drinking shot after shot. They came to visit our table and chatted for a bit. I loved these guys! (We also sat next to a hotel guest, who worked as a resort photographer. He gets paid to travel the world, and photograph amazing resorts. YES, that’s an actual job!!!)
We anchored for a bit, and the staff prepared a smaller boat to take us to the cave. As we were parked, several ladies in boats paddled up to sell snack items to the passengers. I admired their ingenuity!
There was a little nob sticking up with money laying around it, which was probably some type of offering to a god. I see this often in Japan, certain areas are deemed holy for some reason, and offerings are made. The girls have finally learned not to collect the money!
Back on our boat and headed back to shore. This was the most relaxing day of a jam-packed Vietnam visit. Now, for the three hour drive back to Hanoi, which was even scarier in the dark! I finally decided to close my eyes and not watch our near death experience unfold.
I had no idea that HaLong Bay was so close to China. Also, we were no longer in the tropics and the weather was much cooler, definitely jacket weather. We spent the last two days in Hanoi, the nation’s capital, coming up next….