So after working in Hanoi for 5 days, it was time for a vacation. Honestly, the people that live there, I’m not sure how they do it. That place makes NYC seem like a library, or at least the quiet car on Amtrak.

A friend of mine (Thanks Zach S.) told me about Ha Long Bay and that it was the image you see whenever someone mentions a trip to Vietnam. He also said that you could just go there, catch a boat, stay a night or two on the water and get back to Hanoi with time to spare. Since I had quite a bit of time to spare, I decided to find something that was 3 days 2 nights, and I did just that. Here’s the journey broken down into a few posts for a few days.

The bus picked me up from my hotel and that’s when I met Huy. Turns out he would be my tour guide for the entire trip, and also a great friend.

I’m excited, and when I’m excited, photos get blurry

It was a long drive to Ha Long Bay – about 2 hours, but once we got out of town the traffic died down and the skies opened up a bit. Interesting that it always seems cloudy in Hanoi.

The weird coloring is from the bus windows.

It certainly was time for a vacation. I like where I work and what I do, but as in any job, sometimes when your boat gets like this…

It’s time to head to shore, tie up for a bit, and relax. Except in this case, I wasn’t headed to shore, I was headed to a boat in open water. Hmmm. This metaphor may not have come out how I planned. Anyway, onto the vacation part.

On the way to the water, we happened upon (which I actually think the buses probably get paid to take a bathroom break at) an oyster / pearl processing place.

It was actually pretty cool as they showed the farming of the oyster, the insertion of the little plastic thing (and maybe even two) into each oyster. Then a few seats down they were pulling the pearls out. Then going inside, it was a very white, bright and beautiful place. Inside you could get ANYTHING you wanted made with pearls or coated with them. There were some beautiful things, and even artists that were creating things right there.

Although, one thing missing… Eating oysters. I mean, let’s get some lemons and half shell action. But alas, no. Just a coffee shop.

I hopped back onto the bus and we headed to the docks to catch the boat, to the boat.

So the big boats used to actually come into this dock to pick people up, but I guess there was an accident, and from what I was reading about, the large boat traffic was actually causing some harm to the bay. Even the cruise ship that I was headed to was part of the problem as well. Sad, but… well.. Ignorant tourism is the best tourism?

There were a lot of empty hotels along this bay, and a lot of boats that were docked. We were told these all used to be full and active, but with COVID and most of their tourists coming from China, things were REALLY slow and things closed / shut down.

The boats looked pretty cool. For ghost ships anyway.

On are way out to the archipelago there was a lot of boat traffic.

So we finally got to the boat, welcomed onboard by some very friendly people. They roped the tiny boat to the back of the big boat, and we pulled up the anchor. I don’t expect the video to get a million hits, but I thought it was neat to see how old, but still operational this was. AND!! This guy makes that conical hat look so cool (no I didn’t buy one to take home).

But then… after we got underway, we were given our room keys. Mind you, I paid about $400 for a 3 day, 2 night cruise with all activities and food included. Booze was extra, but wasn’t out of this world. So I wasn’t expecting too much from the room. WOW was I surprised.

Would you like a tour of the room? I thought you’d never ask.

Once I got settled in my state room it was time to head upstairs to take some pictures and then have some lunch. WOW was it tasty (the views and the food).

Views like this are just… the norm.. but they never get old

All of this nature… I just want to eat some of it! Seafood anyone?

So this takes us to getting ON the boat and having some lunch. Coming up in the next post… still the same day. Kayaking, giant fish, private beaches and a stranded mirror?

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