Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ha Long Bay

Heard about it, read about it, maybe even dreamed about it, but never did I ever imagine actually being there! But 4 + - hours later north of Hanoi, there we were driving up to a view, that literally took you'r breath away. Aside from the sea of tourist's milling around like worker ants, and boats large and small, tenders, taxies, junk's of every size and configuration, it was a mariners nightmare, but believe it or not it was controlled chaos. It was like a water dance of ship's and freight.
Our guide, the professional that she is, herded us through the sea of lines and officials, and before we knew it we were on a water taxi. ( 15 minutes max! )
We boarded the Husong Hai, a 100 foot wooden junk beautifully trimmed in teak throughout, with 9 state rooms, a full galley, beautifully furnished dining area, bar, ample aft covered seating area, with a full sun deck and chairs topside.
The staterooms were smallish but comfortable, with a head and shower wand, best of all, they were air conditioned. Ok, Ok, the boats cool, enough. We were assigned our state rooms, bunk mate's, and after stowing our gear, a quick dip in the bay for a few of us, followed by a quick shower, LUNCH TIME!
I could go on and on about the food, but I'll spare you the torture, but believe me it was terrific. From the fresh seafood to the professional service, believe me it was first class all the way! I do this and teach this for a living, and I've never seen such perfection and professionalism. Now I know how the other half lives, and the best was yet to come, our Gala Dinner served on the sun deck that night! Another winner! Seven courses, and again I'll save you the torture.
After a good night of blissful sleep, we were up early the next morning to a great breakfast, and on with the day's adventure cruising the water way's in wonderland.
Surprisingly with all the vessels on the water the area is so expansive, we noticed only periodic glimpses of other vessels cruising by, I can't put it into word's, the beauty of it all.
Early on we transferred to small tender row boats seating 4 people each, and visited a floating village tucked away in a beautiful expansive cove, where about 500 people live permanently year round, they live and subsist on locally caught seafood, we were told that a ship delivers fresh produce, water and other proteins twice a week. We visited the local floating school house, and natural pearl beds that are harvested and sold to tourist's like us, that generate much of their income, beautiful stuff! At days end we returned to our mothership for another cruise before lunch, and back to our waiting bus. Again, I could write endlessly of the adventure, but you had to have been there to truly appreciate the experience. After the trip ended Brian and I both agreed that if ever possible we will return with our families to share the experience.

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