Well I reckon the three day/two night cruise is just about the right amount of time. I said so long Halong just a few weeks ago, gone but not forgotten big time. What an experience from start to finish.
Previous research via the internet led me to book a cruise with Indochina Junks and we chose a junk with 4 cabins.
You can organise collection from Hanoi and for $20 more, travel is in a luxury van so with wifi and water and a comfort stop on the way Halong limestone karsts soon loomed.
We rocked up at the wharf in Halong City at the same time as torrential rain and a welcome party of umbrellas and escorted through the puddles to a seat on the verandah. Rain made the bay look somewhat grey and gloomy. However the Vietmanese smiles and service made up for a little water. Tony introduced himself as our guide for the three day slash two night jaunt and he led us with yet more umbrellas to a small boat which ferried us to our home for the next two nights.
Welcome drinks and a wet meet and greet from all the staff and we were cruising Vietmanese style. The staff very nearly out numbered the cruisers with 7 in all…….and oh how well they looked after us.
To be fair there isn’t much room to swing a catfish on a junk but you don’t need space as you should be on deck enjoying the bay.
The staff were patient with our questions and we got to understand a little about Vietnamese life and soon picked up on their pride and love for these limestone cliffs in the Gulf of Tonkin.
The first afternoon was spent kayaking and I had to pinch myself a couple of times when he who likes to think he is obeyed was drilling me in kayaking technique. Pinch myself because it was just us cruisers out in the bay, the water was still, the cliffs reared up majestically and we had time to get up close and personal with this special area.
One thing spoiled this little drop of heaven and that was the amount of rubbish floating in the water. Tony had given us a net each and challenged us with collecting as much plastic debris as we could manage. We did our best to out collect our new Americans friends all in the cause of environmentalism and great British pride.
Day two saw us exploring a floating village and a pearl farm. The floating village community operate their lives on just a few yards of wooden platform. Kids row to school, adults meet friends, share fishing stories and greet visitors. I loved it.
Lunch was served on a beach at the foot of a giant rock barbecue style and we had freedom to swim, kayak and relax. Oh I can do relax any way you want!
My hope for the bay is that locals and visitors take responsibility for the litter and clean up else we could lose this place to visit and locals will lose their livelihood.
So long Halong.
More photos below of this incredible cruise.