July 16, 2007
We arrived outside Hand Span Tours in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and after 15 minutes waiting to get organised we were on our way.
The next three days we spent with several couples (French, Norwegian, Canadian) and two other traveling Americans.
Our Junk boat was reasonable flash but as we slowly motored out of the harbour, we noticed that there were another dozen Junks,all doing the same thing.
We weaved on through hundreds of limestone karsts till we reached a floatilla of Junks (other tour boats) that were anchored outside a cave. We disembarked and spent and hour going through Sung Sot Cave.
There was a story behind the cave, but I wasn’t paying attention. Afterwards we rejoined with the crew of our Junk and we sailed into the middle of Ha Long Bay and set anchor. The remainder of the day we spent diving off the side of the Junk into the sea.
In the bay there would have been at least forty boats, all the same Junk design, all doing the same thing. In hindsight we could have saved a few dollars and not have gone to all the expense of this tour, but I did hear of some horror stories from other travellers earlier. That night was spent playing cards with two American girls on the Junk, while the other couples slinked off early to bed.
The next day was a kayaking day. We spent all day roaming around through the karsts with a lunch interlude on a private beach owned by Hand Span. We kept our cameras on the Junk boat, although we could have used the wet-bags provided. Unfortunately we took no pictures of the kayaking event.
That night we spent on Cat Ba island. The island reminded somewhat of Thailand, a cartoon background that constantly repeats itself. What I mean is that it would be restaurant, bar, massage outfit shoe sellers, resturant again etc. With the early rise the next day to return to Hanoi, there as no way we could explore the town.
Although when we picked up at 9am from our hotel the minivan took the scenic route back to the wharf.
We were back in Hanoi at around 5pm with Ha Long Bay completed. Highly recommended.