Halong Bay is said to be one of the world’s natural wonders- a Bay with more than 3000 islands, rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, which time wind and waves have sculpted into fantastic shapes. Legend claims the islands of Halong bay were created by a great dragon whose tail gouged out valleys and crevices before finally plunging into the sea and the area filling with water. Legend also states that the dragons child plunged into the sea close by in an area known as Bai Tu Long Bay.
Halong bay was designated a world heritage site in 1994 and is quite spectacular. A boat cruise is the best way to explore the area and so at 8am the coach collected us from our hotel for the 4 hour journey to the Harbour to reach our boat. Our tour guide was called Tho although we called her Toe and was this petite little Vietnamese lady with a cracking sense of humor. Once we arrived at the Harbour we boarded a ‘taxiboat’ which took us the 600m to meet our cruise boat ‘Cristina’ .
We opted for a 4 day 3 night cruise option which included; one night sleeping on Cristina and then 2 nights sleeping in a bungalow on Cat ba Island. All meals were included in the price but drinks were extra. The food was on the whole very good and plentiful and we had specifically stated that I don’t eat meat, seafood or fish and Ollie doesn’t eat seafood or fish. On Cristina this was not problem and alternatives were provided but on Catba Island it became comical about how many times we had to say no fish or seafood and the reply was always “but squid is OK?” “but shrimp is good?” No funnily enough this counts as seafood in England! A vegetarian option was provided which was usually an omlette or tofu, unfortunately neither of which Ollie likes. The food was generally a mountain of steamed rice with an array of accompaniments including; peanuts, sauted vegetables, egg of some description, spring rolls, stir-fried meat, salad and chips which had been covered in butter and sugar! Who knew you could make chips even more unhealthy?!
So after lunch on our first day we were taken by small boat to Hang Dau Go cave which contained many stalagmites and stalactites for which our guide had a fantastic imagination and kept pointing out shapes in the rocks, such as an elephant or a frog some of which I could see and some I thought she had lost the plot . My favourite were two rock formations at the exit of the cave which really did look like 2 legs hanging down from the exit. The cave was beautiful but did not compare to the caves we saw in Phong Nga.