Indulge me for a bit while I take you on a voyage to Halong Bay, just a short day trip from Hanoi. We knew that we wanted to go on this tour, so we booked it the first day we were in Hanoi. Everything you want to do, travel-wise, is very easy to do in Vietnam. And there are usually many ways to go-bus, private car, etc. We chose a nice looking boat from the brochure, and did not get the least expensive, nor the most expensive tour. Jim knew, from reading the guidebook (we are mostly all carrying around dog eared copies of Lonely Planet)that you definitely get what you pay for here.
So we were surprised when we were met at our hotel by a private guide and our own bus!It got better from there, as after our 4 hour bus ride, we were taken to our boat, and we were also the only passengers aboard! Yes, we had this lovely boat all to ourselves, along with a staff of 5 to take care of us.
This looks like some fake backdrop that you might stand in front of for a photo, but believe me, we earned that photo after climbing all the steps to get there, then traipsing through the most amazing caves we had ever seen. I was a bit skeptical about the cave part at the beginning, as I have a bit (a lot) of claustrophobia. This cave was huge and very open, and not at all claustrophobia inducing.
This is the long view of our boat in the early morning, as we took the smaller tender to the floating village. The bay was just as spectacular in the morning as it was during the day. As you can see, our boat was quite large enough for the two of us. Did I mention the beautiful, five course meals we were served? All the food was spectacular, with carved carrot and tomato garnishes and was as delicious as it was beautiful.
This is one of the floating "grocery stores" that came to the village and also hung around the boats just in case you needed to satisfy your craving for pringles, oreos or soda pop. We bought some crackers for the kids at the floating school
This is where Jim and I are thinking of retiring to. Wouldn't it be peaceful and quiet? Well, maybe a little too remote for us.