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Halong Bay and Monkey Island


View Doyle and Dan's Adventure on doyledan's travel map.

Back in Hanoi we had a day to recuperate after Sapa and meet up with Jude, our friend from our China travels who had got into Vietnam the day before. We spent it casually walking around the city and checked out the military museum. The relics from the war were quiet interesting and there was a art like sculpture made up of old US fighter planes that had been shot down which was impressive. However I think that if you are not into seeing planes and missiles its not the best museum to go to mainly because outside of the disused planes and artillery the displays inside the museum didn't really but artefacts into context.

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By then end of the tour I was shattered and so I left Sarah and Jude and caught a motorbike ride back to hostel. There is no way to do this without getting cosy as it were with your driver which I'm guessing from Sarah's picture she was amused by it.

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Later, we booked our 3 days and 2nights trip to Halong Bay with Jude and made sure we got a good nights sleep for the 8am start the next day.

Day 1.......

The next morning we left for Halong Bay, one of the treasures of Northern Vietnam. It was a quick shuttle to our main bus and we were off. Throughout the 4 hour bus ride the sun was sun shining and despite the weather reports it was looking like the weather was going to be on our side. However, typically this changed to a far less brighter day when we made it to Halong City Harbour and we were beginning to think our luck was out.

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Upon reaching the harbour it was clear that these boat trips are a huge attraction as swarms of people were getting ready to board their boats and returning parties looking slightly worst for wear making their way home. We had heard about the very popular booze cruise trips that existed around Halong Bay but decided after being on the go since Beijing really, to have a more relaxed and less boozy trip would be preferable and it would also mean we could have a good catch up with Jude before we parted ways. Through our Hostel (Hanoi hostel) they booked our trip with Asia Cruise on one of the junk boats. Sarah and I had a double room which was a good size and the rest of boat offered a dining area above as well as rooftop with sunloungers

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On the boat we had our vietnamese style lunch, which allowed us to get acquainted with the other members of the group. We sat with Jude and two Aussie sisters Ellen and Lisa who joined us, and we had a good chat about our travels before the itinerary for the rest of the day was laid out by Danny our guide.

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The first thing on the agenda was going to be the Thien Cung cave that is situated on one of the islands. Upon reaching the shore we saw that many of the boats stopped in the same place and I must admit I was beginning to fear that this was going to be the trend of the trip, stopping at well trodden destinations without getting the sense that you have gotten away from it all.

The cave itself was good, however as Sarah and I had seen caves in China, this one didn't really offer anything different. In fact when we walked in there was a real sense of déjà vu because the lighting that was used was identical. I think the only difference was that this one had daylight shining through one part of it which Sarah managed to capture. We did find out that the cave was used by fisherman during typoons as a place for shelter which was an interesting fact but apart from that it was kind of been there done that.

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Upon leaving the cave we were delighted to find that the sun had decided to make an appearance just as we floated at of the small bay and onward to our next activity of kayaking.

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As taking the camera kayaking was not the best idea we didn't document it but we had a good time paddling about the bay around the fishing village and one of the isolated karst rocks which features on the 200,000 dong note before making our way back to the boat for dinner and a relaxing evening on the rooftop watching the sun go down. Not too shabby!

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Not before I and a few others jumped off the roof of the boat into the water to have a swim which was great fun although I was a little freaked out by the seaweed when I hit the water.

Day 2........

Today we were going to make our way to Cat Ba Island and also our private island resort. As the day begun we knew after yesterday that the weather could go either way, however to our fortune the sun came out early in the morning and would stay with us for the rest of other day.

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Upon reaching Cat Ba we took a short bus ride to the national park. We stopped there to have a tour with the local guide. Cat Ba national park is home to endangered golden-headed langur monkey with only 62 individuals left on the island. Their numbers dropped dramatically by 98% over the last 40 years predominantly due to poaching to be used in traditional medicine. Other than conservation and tourism the island is used as an Ecological study area for insects, birds and other animals.

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One of which being a praying mantus

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Our guide was a quirky fella who I likened to the Lion king character Rafiki mainly because he had the same kind of lunatic laughter and during the trip he would jump around the trees and rocks showing off to the group. It was entertaining and helped with our spirits as the trek through the forest was going to be quite steep.

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Having made our way a group through the forest, almost rock climbing in parts, we were rewarded with a panoramic view of the island . At the top they had built a iron viewing platform which was a further 25 meteres in the air. I started to walk up leaving Sarah who was not so keen on the open staircase and was able to capture some good shots before making my way down to pose for the camera.

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It was a nice to do something active for the morning and meant that relaxing at our resort was just what the doctored ordered. Our resort was called Monkey Island because the island housed a population of monkeys (bet you didn't figure that one out) and before reaching its' shores we hit a snag as the driver had to stop the engine and take a look underneath. Fortunately nothing was arye and we continued our steady pace to the shore and boy was it worth the wait.

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The resort was made of 10 to 15 beach huts that looked out to sea and garden, it was one of those picture perfect set ups that meant we were eager to get to shore and enjoy the sun loungers on the beach to start working on the elusive tan. And the rest of the day was just that , some went kayaking again to find the monkeys and others just chilled out on the beach, it was the first time we had felt like we and properly stopped and it felt good.

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It also gave me the chance to try out my new purchase .......a guitar!!! ....just a small travel one but a good one nonetheless.....

The next day was an early start to get the ferry bank to mainland and travel back to Hanoi. We still had time to soak up the sun and made sure we rinsed it!! It was sad to say goodbye to Jude as we had had so many good times since Beijing and we wish her all the best for her onward travels -:)

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Next stop would be Hue....

Stay tuned for more tales.

Dan

Posted by doyledan 08:16 Archived in Vietnam Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches boats bay halong Comments (0)

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