HA LONG BAY, VIETNAM
Vietnam!!! Ah this place is straight beauty! It was a journey to get here but well worth it. Traveling to Ha Long Bay we originally had a very long layover in Ho Chi Minh. Rachael and I were planning on stopping and seeing the World War II Cú Chi tunnels. But sadly our layover turned from 10+ hours to 5 hours - that perfect amount of time where you can't leave the airport but also long enough to make the layover awful. And our layover was awful - we ate Popeyes Chicken fast food because there were literally no other options and we were so starving and desperate! Once we left the Ho Chi Minh airport we flew into Hai Phong for the night before heading to Ha Long Bay the next morning. The drive to Ha Long Bay was beautiful and very fun. We drove along the coast. Vietnam is still very traditional. We saw many vietnamese people wearing the non la hats carrying the bamboo shoulder poles and working in rice fields. It was all the very iconic Vietnam you picture in your head. I thought about pulling out my camera to try and take a photo of one of the rice field workers, but some moments are better left experienced and not stressed about documenting. We enjoyed our car ride and arrived early in Ha Long Bay that morning. Our hotel in Ha Long Bay is SO FUN! One plus about traveling during the shoulder season is that you get deals right and left. Rachael and I have stayed in some pretty nice places for a steal of a deal. This hotel is brand new and right on the shore of the bay. We paid for the cheapest room possible ($37 USD) and were upgraded upon arrival to the premiere suite! Granted we are one of three guests at the hotel haha. But literally every hotel we have stayed at we have been upgraded to the nicest possible option when we booked the cheapest - we even booked a hotel room with no windows for $12 and were upgraded to the suite hahaha! After getting settled we headed down to the desk to see what activities were open for the day. Turns out the tour group we were wanting to go on just left so we had to hurry over there! Rachael and I had just ordered lunch when we found this out so we had to take our lunches to go with us. The vietnamese people did not know hot to pack a lunch to go and ended up creating these tinfoil baskets for us to take our lunches in. We were dying at how the packaged it and how different that was for their culture! They even packed a mini habisco hot sauce for my pizza!? The tour we book took us on a junk boat ride through Ha Long Bay. The bay is STUNNING! It is breathtaking and so much more gorgeous than any photo you've seen of the bay! It is kinda like Lake Powell but only grander and greener! Rachael and I found a nice little spot on the top deck of our boat. We were able to lay out, soak up the sunshine and enjoy the views. After cruising for a while we were able to go kayaking through some of the tunnels, arches and caves. Kayaking was a blast and I did not want to stop. Rachael and I had both decided kayaking was something we really wanted to do and we were finally able to go! After kayaking we were able to stop by this fishing village in the middle of Ha Long Bay. There is an entire village of boats and platforms strung together. The village is completely self-sustaining and just fishes all day for their food. It was crazy to see little children and dogs jump from boat to boat! We kept cruising again through the bay and then were able to tour the Sung Sot cave. Seeing the columns in the cave was neat and it was nice and cool inside the cave. After touring the caves we cruised back to the bay and then headed to our hotel. We spent the evening swimming in the infinity pool on the top deck (views were insane) and then grabbed dinner and headed to bed! Tù bit Vietnam! xx, m.