27/5/07 31 °C
After a few days back in Hanoi to readjust to the humid conditions after the fresh mountain air of Sapa I headed to Halong Bay. There are countless tour companies operating in this region so I opted for one that came as a recommendation from some fellow travellers...promising lots of kayaking and superb food....I was sold! As it turnes out it was an excellent choice. Columbus is a small adventure tour comapny operating out of Hanoi and of the two "Junk boats" they own...the Santa Maria is the swishest one. Most companies have built specifically designed boats for the toursit market....put a sail on it and called it a Junk. Whilst they are reminiscent of the traditional fishing Junk boats they are in fact not but come with a great level of comfort...hot showers...sun deck...bar! So after a three hour bus ride we arrived at the busy harbor....a hiving metropolis of boats and tourists. As it turned out there were only three of us aboard the "Santa Maria cruiser" for our overnight stay, myself and a couple from Spain on their honeymoon. It was a fantastic couple of days....the bay is magnificent and once you move out of the main harbor area the waters take on a spectacular emerald green colour. It is little wonder that this area has been claimed a World Heritage site. Our first day was made up of visiting limestone caves, kayaking around Cat Ba Island and lounging on the decks...as promised the food was outstanding and with more crew than passengers we were treated like royalty. Our Captain who I named Jackie Chen for his striking resemblence to the action man himself was a charcter and had us doing jumping tricks off the boat and playing cards in to the wee hour. As much as I am a mountain girl....I do love to be on the ocean aboard a boat, in fact, it would have to be one of my favorite things in the world to wake up on the ocean. So after a fruity breakfast and some strong coffee we again headed out kayaking, visited a local fishing village and explored some of the smaller inlets....below is a picture of the "Santa Maria" team...we had a lot of laughs and some great conversations over the couple of days we spent together.
After Halong bay it was back to Hanoi for my final night and then off to Hoi An...
Lots of love and happy thoughts,