The last 2 days we have spent in HaLong Bay, which is on the NE Coast of Vietnam. We were told sleeping on a junk is a very memorable experience and that we MUST experience. Due to the typhoon in China we had to postpone for a few days…but it was totally worth the wait.
We were picked up at our “travel agency” at 8 am with a mini van and drove about 3 ½ hours to the coast. Along the way we stopped at a factory where they made silk sewing hangings and other souvenirs. Our tour guide explained that the factory was a place where the Vietnamese who were injured during the war worked and that this town was hit pretty bad which made it yet another one of those moments where Ad and I just looked at each other with a blank stare.
After grabbing a sandwich at the shop we drove a bit farther to the harbor in HaLong Bay. We were ushered like cattle with the hundreds of other people who were awaiting a trip on their junk into smaller boats that taxied us to our boat. Our Junk was called the Oriental Sails. All of the boats are pretty new but are built to look like old fashioned boats.
At this point, our vacation began to change. We started to talk with everyone on board and realized just how lucky we are to be traveling to be meeting people from so many places around the world and every one of them has been nothing but smiles and genuinely wonderful to meet. (ill explain more in a bit)
We spent the afternoon touring around the “amazing cave” and kayaking as well as eating a fantastic dinner and a bottle of wine. After dinner, all of us sat on the roof of our boat and chatted until after midnight.
We were accompanied by a couple from the Philippines who are travel writers and super sweet, a couple from Malaysia (Kuala Lumpor – who took the photo above)) who have us convinced that we will be stopping by to see the city on our way to Singapore and who will gladly show us around. We had dinner with two university students from Switzerland who were hysterical boys who also said they would host us and take us for Fondue when we go to Europe. We spent time chatting with two German friends who have now given us a great idea to save money in Europe, renting a camper or RV and driving our selves around the country giving us lodging and a kitchen…which will definitely save on the bank. We also spoke with a lovely couple from France (who when she says France it sounds like music) who live in Bordeaux and their children are all grown…they invited us to stay with them for a few nights, drink red wine and enjoy their city.
The next day, we had breakfast and separated from the group since we were here for 3 days not 2 like them and boarded a day boat where we spent the day with a couple, he from the Netherlands and she from Germany. They were so much fun. The four of us spent the day on the beach, building a sand city, swimming in the Bay, kayaking through caves and laughing so much. We spotted a giant jelly fish and that ended our swimming.
They were a blast and we hope in the next two weeks to meet up with them again in the South of Vietnam.
When we got back to our main boat we got ready for dinner and spent the evening with new friends. A father and son from the Netherlands were our entertainment and conversation buddies for the evening along with a couple from Australia. We spent the night talking about how similar and also different from movies like American Pie and the Hangover to the son and the dad talked with us about Harley Davidsons, the military conspiracies and our dogs (they have a long haired Jack Russell )
Our three days here on the Oriental Sails has not only shown us a most beautiful Bay full of mini mountains popping out of the water (The story is that a dragon spit pearls at the enemy and each pearl became a landform – 1,969 of them) We visited the floating village of Ca Van and saw how they squid fish and survive storms by building their village close to the landforms for protection.
We also met such wonderful people and have so many more places and people now to visit in the next few months. I think we needed this experience. I believe that this was one of those eye opening moments to all of the wonderful people on this earth who are full of light and enjoy meeting people and having the basics of conversation turn into such wonderful experiences and friendships. All of this was in just 3 days, I can not wait to see what the rest of this trip will bring to us.