The weather in Hanoi is not too good, but we decide to go to the coast to Halong Bay anyway. We book an overnight trip on a boat. Driving to the coast we get to see our first rice-paddies, the countryuside, people working on the land and waterbuffalo's and their symbiotic friends: the white birds sitting on their heads to pick bugs out of their ears. It's almost picture perfect, only the touristvans are driving through the scenery rapidly like from another world.
After 2 hours we can already see the Halong Bay mountains at the horizon, they look like huge, green, furry dragon eggs floating on the sea, fantastic! When we arrive at the bay it's obvious what a touristattraction this actually is, buses and boats everywhere, and it's now even low-season! Apparantly upto 10 years ago there were only a handful of touristboats that would take you out into the Halong Bay for a few hours, now there are 600 floating around, offering 3 night packages varying from Basic (apparanlty that one includes rats), Standard (that's what we took), Exclusive, Super Delux and so on. The prices per night range from 20 to 300 dollars!!
Our Standard package inlcudes a lovely lunch and a trip to one of the huge caves, it's beautiful. We also go kayaking through the bay, great to be so close to the rocks in the emerald coloured sea! We rent the kayaks from one of the little floating villages, on which babies, dogs, cats, grownups, a little fish farm and houses can be found. Pretty strange, I wonder where the dogs do their 'business'...
At night it gets pretty cold, it's a fullmoon, but we can't see it due to the clouds. Nevertheless, Ankie and I sit on the deck till later that night drinking Veitnamese rice-wine, also known as Hanoi Wodka, and enjoy the view of the silhouettes of the rocks and the dark night. Other boats are parked (is that what boats do, or should it be 'harbored'?) in the same bay aswell, we can hear everyting whats's going on sitting on the deck: some boats are doing Karaoke, some dancing to 80's misic, some are quiet, and our boat is playing games, we played the biggest Yahtzee game ever, 11 people! The drinking games Ankie and I decided to skip, I think we were a bit older than the rest of the group.
The next morning it's still a bit grey, but around noon the sun comes out, the first sun I've seen in a while! We get to chill on the back of the boat for an hour or so in the sun, before we arrive at the harbour again and our little minivan is waiting to pick us up. This was a great little trip!