HA LONG BAY, VIETNAM
Updated: Feb 25, 2019
Ha Long Bay: some 1,600 islands of tropical rain forests and limestone cliffs surrounded by emerald waters. I'd seen all the pictures, watched a tonne of videos and yet this UNESCO World Heritage site still managed to blow me away with its beauty.
In true British fashion our tour checked the weather forecast religiously, hoping and praying that the weather would stay decent and our cruise wouldn't be cancelled. With thundery showers forecast, we expected the whole trip to be a total let down, but lord we couldn't have been more wrong.
We travelled the four or so hours from Hanoi by minivan, making the customary toilet stops along the way. As we arrived to pouring rain, my spirits took a fell swoop downwards and we shuffled our way onto the boat that would take us to our cruise ship.
For my first time on a boat since being young I handled myself pretty well, even if I was convinced my backpack would drag me backwards into the water. Arriving to our three storey boat we all piled on and filed to our designated rooms.
Now I was incredibly excited for the kayaking, even though I'd never set foot in one in my life, but as we lined up to be assigned a kayak I got nervous as hell. The idea of being sat on water made me unsure, but as soon as I let go and just enjoyed myself I had a hell of a time, though it was made much easier by my kayak buddy James who was probably wishing he hadn't gotten stuck with such a novice- sorry James, but thanks for the cool photo below!
Being the little rule breakers we were, we followed another tour group through the islands and under a cave that was much harder to navigate through than it looks! We came out the other side at a stunning little bay, and when a few of our groups started jumping out to swim, I bit the bullet and jumped in too (and prayed I'd be able to get back in!!).
Swimming in Ha Long Bay was incredible! After a few hilarities, including Taryn tipping over her kayak getting out and losing Holly's camera to the depths of Ha Long Bay forever, we hauled ourselves back into our kayaks (in which I did a fabulous beached whale impression- again, sorry James!) and headed back to our boat.
By this point I was grinning ear to ear and loving life, so when someone suggested jumping off the boat, my reaction was something akin to 'why the bloody hell not!?'. So, here I am, standing on the edge of a three storey high boat, heart jumping out of my chest getting ready to jump on the count of three.
It's fair to say that jumping off that boat was one of the most exhilarating things I've done to date, and even after doing it three more times I still wanted to do it again.
After the fun was over, we all got glammed up for the party, the details of which are best left un-said...
The next morning, with some of us rougher than others, we were treated to a cooking class to learn how to make spring rolls, and the sun finally decided to shine across the bay so we spent the morning soaking up sunshine and taking photos before we got our boat back to land.
Ha Long Bay was by far one of the best parts of the trip and I'll certainly be coming back for more!