After a lazy day back in Hanoi it was off to Ha Long Bay for three days to celebrate Kirby’s (belated) birthday.
Ha Long Bay is absolutely amazing! Thousands of Islands (some not yet named) erupt from the turquoise ocean straight into the sky, creating an inspiring, looming, panorama that insists awe and admiration.
Our boat was called Calypso; it is a beautiful big junk with three levels.
The first level was accommodation, our room was beautiful with dark stained wood furniture, a big ensuite (with a shower window that looks straight out into the stunning bay), and A/C. The best room we have stayed in all month haha.
The second level contains the cocktail bar and restaurant.
The third level is a sun deck with comfy deck-beds and a 360 degree view of the stunning bay.
The meals on board were excessive to say the least. Every night we would be treated with a 5 course culinary feast, some of the best food we have had all through Vietnam, and most definitely the best decorated – I had never seen a carrot turned into a flower before. We also did two fun cooking classes on board during the afternoon as the sun was setting.
We were treated with a tour of Amazing Cave; a huge limestone cave that is responsible for many legends and tales and revered by the local people of the bay as a spiritual place. Some of the caves around the bay were used during the Vietnam War as Viet Cong hospitals, hidden deep within the Islands there was no way they would be discovered by the Americans.
That afternoon we lounged up on the sun deck drinking delicious cocktails and watching the sun set deep into the turquoise waters, sometimes it’s hard to believe that you are actually experiencing this!
The second day we left the main boat and took a smaller speed boat around to Lan Ha Bay just off Cat Ba Island. Here we swam, kayaked and admired the surrounding seascape. After a kayak tour we were left to do whatever we wanted. Some people decided to just sit at the bar and drink, while others tested their ‘backflipping’ abilities off the roof of the boat. Kirby and I decided to go exploring a bit more and headed off in our kayak in search of some adventure. We found a small uninhabited Island and explored the half-flooded cave for treasure, unfortunately after 10 meters it got too tight to continue and we never found any riches.
The local people who inhabit Ha Long Bay live on floating houses and pontoons. They are sustained through fishing and aquaculture - clams in sand box farms. Most of the people (and their dogs) will never set foot on dry ground as they are born and die in their pontoon villages.
During the night back on the Calypso we spent time fishing for squid, unfortunately there were only small ones around, but still fun !
^^ Kirby squid fishing
The next day we hung out on Titop Island – after a gruelling climb straight up to the top you can enjoy 360 degree views of the Bay.
^^ View from Titop Island
After three relaxing days in Ha Long Bay we headed back to the mainland (after a quick stop at a pearl farm).
Our time in Ha Long Bay was amazing and Kirby enjoyed her birthday present. I would definitely recommend Calypso for anyone interested in visiting this incredible bay.