The four hour drive from Hanoi was slow and bumpy in the rain and traffic, and we made the obligatory stop at a huge handicrafts complex on the way.
The port from which all of the cruises leave, was jammed with tourists and junks jockeying for position. The junks are lovely old boats, usually with 8-10 cabins on a lower deck, a covered middle deck for eating, and an open top deck for sightseeing and partying.
The huge rocks were shrouded in mist, which gave the bay a pretty eerie, mysterious feel. Fishermen pulled in their nets, while tourists kayaked by.
Lunch on the boat was delicious, particularly the grilled king prawns. I've been really impressed with the seafood here in Vietnam.
We motored on to one of the largest, and most recently discovered caves, and were able to wander through it. It reminded me of Jenolean Caves in Katoomba. The stalactites and stalagmites were enormous!
From there, some of the group kayaked through the surrounding caves. I stayed on the boat and watched river life go by. Some of the families in the floating villages had apparently never set foot on dry land. They bought food from floating vendors and fished. Such a simple life in a beautiful place.
We continued to motor on through the enormous rocks, and found a place to moor for the evening. Other than the hum of other junks around us, it was quiet, dark and incredibly peaceful.
Our captain became our bar tender and waiter, and the crew brought out an amazing dinner - more prawns, and fresh baked fish and crab. Such a memorable meal.
The boat was swinging around a bit, so getting long exposure shots was near impossible. We had to settle for cranking up the ISO and capturing whatever we could hand-held.
Cards games and cocktails ensued, and then a long, peaceful sleep. Despite the light rain and mist, our evening on Halong Bay was a highlight of my visit to Vietnam!
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