Austen's Travel Blog

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Vietnam - Day 3 - Halong Bay

December 27, 2019

Paddling

Our usual early start and our usual breakfast at the hotel before getting on the coach for the 4 hour drive to Halong Bag and our overnight Junk tour.

On the route out of Hanoi our guide, Thui, shared many details on Vietnamese culture, people and politics which was fascinating and we had lots of questions for him.

During the journey we watched the world go by and everyday going’s on. We were interested to learn that land for housing is allocated in 5 m x 20 m plots throughout Vietnam which is why the size of housing varies very little between the city and countryside. The only major difference is that city property tends to have more floors.

Pottery Painters

After a few hours we stopped at a pottery factory for a break and to get some coffee. We took a short tour of the factory and met the women who hand paint the pottery. Each item takes around 40 minutes and has a completely bespoke design.

Kilns

Once painted and glazed the pottery is fired in kilns which are heated by wood fires and it takes 3 days before the pottery is ready.

Vases

We take a look around the factory shop and are impressed by the huge vases but don’t think we can manage to transport them home.

Coffee

We try typical Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk which is sweet and bitter and really tasty. After coffee it’s then back on the coach for a few more hours to Ha Long bay.

Our Junk

On arrival at the bay we get straight onto our Junk where we’ll be staying overnight and touring the bay.

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is spectacular with its distinctive towers of rock and is somewhat reminiscent of Doubtful Sound in New Zealand. We spend an hour sitting on deck with a cold drink admiring the scenery.

Family Snap

Next we were scheduled to visit the Surprise caves however there was a massive queue when we arrived and our guide decided to postpone the visit until the morning. Instead we went kayaking.

Bella Kayaking

Bella and I hired a kayak and paddle around part of the bay while Alex and Diana relaxed on the boat. It was great to get closer to the rocks and see the coral and sea urchins in the warm sea water. There were several oyster farms which we went to investigate but couldn’t see any oysters.

Uber Eats

Back on the boat we drank cocktails on deck and chatted while the sun went down. The Ha Long Bay equivalent of Uber Eats pulled up alongside the boat and we bought Orio’s and snacks. The kids thought it was the best thing ever!

We all sat down for dinner tired after not a particularly active day but lots of fresh air and interesting things to look at. Finally an early night for everyone as we’re visiting the caves tomorrow at 7:30 am.