Our trip to Ha Long Bay began with a 4-hour long car ride. Vin made the car ride enjoyable at first by telling us many riddles. He also taught us a bit about the Vietnamese language and explained that it was very difficult to learn, like English. Vietnamese has words that are the same but have different vowels and pronunciations. Be careful when you order Pho to be sure you are getting the noodle soup and not a hooker!
He was a very fun tour guide to have around. Half way through our trip, we stopped by this store where women were sewing these woven art pieces. Auntie Missy and I loved them and got some to bring home with us. It will be a great memory of our trip!
We finally got to the cruise and checked into our room, which was very nice. We had a balcony and a bathroom that was way nicer than I expected. I couldn’t wait to set sail and explore the beautiful bay.
The rest of our trip to Ha Long Bay did not go so well for Auntie Missy. The bumpy car ride made her very sick so she didn’t get to enjoy the overnight cruise at all. It was a huge bummer and I felt very badly for her. I had to go along to all the stops on the cruise and enjoy dinner and happy hour by myself.
Our first stop on the boat was the Surprise Cave or Hang Sung Sot. This trip, Auntie Missy probably would not have joined in on even if she were feeling well! We got to walk up and mountain and through these massive caves on one of the islands in Ha Long Bay. The cave was not as tiny and scary as I had imagined as some of the parts could have fit hundreds of people they were so wide. I did freak out walking alone a bit when I saw a bat, yuck! I made friends with two people on our cruise that were both originally from Vancouver, went to Harvard Business School and now work in finance in Hong Kong. They were very sweet to me the rest of the day and were very interesting to talk to.
After the cave, we took the cruise back to another island, Ti Top Island, for a spectacular view of the sunset over the bay. I climbed up around 400 steps all the way to the top of the mountain to see amazing 360-degree views of all of Ha Long Bay. It was worth the trek even though I was huffing and puffing and trying to hide it from my fellow cruise mates!
Next, we went back onboard the boat for happy hour and a Vietnamese spring roll cooking demonstration. I learned how to make my own spring roll with rice paper. The trick is using egg and painting it all over the paper so it doesn’t break when you roll it up. I got to eat the spring roll I made after and it was delicious!
Auntie Missy still was not feeling well for dinner so I was a bit nervous I was going to have to eat alone. My nice friends from Hong Kong invited me to join them, which was very sweet. We talked about American television shows and movies they wanted to catch up on. It was a great time. After dinner, I didn’t have much else to do since everyone went off to do their own thing so I got another massage at the spa on the ship. This made me sleepy and helped me fall asleep.
The next morning after not great boat sleep, I woke up and got ready for the last Ha Long Bay excursion. Auntie Missy wanted to still rest and shower even though she was feeling a bit better. This trip was to Luon Cave. We boarded a rowboat and were taken under a natural rock passage to this opening among the mountains. It was gorgeous especially so early in the morning.
After the cave, we had a buffet breakfast and got on our way back to Hanoi to the airport. We ended up being very early for our flight so we got on an earlier flight to Ho Chi Minh City. It was very nice not to have to wait for three hours at the airport!
Once we arrived at our amazing hotel in Saigon, the Intercontinental, we decided to eat something familiar that would settle well in our stomachs. We went for Italian and I ordered pizza and Auntie Missy ordered spaghetti. I have never been so happy to eat crappy pizza in my life!
Tomorrow is New Years Eve and we are off to the Mekong Delta before a city tour. Goodnight Saigon!