03 2014 Dec

Cruising Halong Bay

Halong Bay, VietnamTagged cruise, guide, tour, verdict: pass

Our travel agent booked us on a cruise for Halong Bay. Something I’ve been meaning to do my entire life. All those small island mountains protruding looked magical. Something I wanted to witness with my own eyes and feel what it’s like to be surrounded by them. It may not have been the best weather but I’ll take the overcast coolness. And thankfully there was no rain in forecast.

The day started with a taxi ride to the dock. We were to meet up and join a tour group, so we picked a meeting spot. Not too difficult to spot the tour guide who insisted to meet outside the restrooms. In his defense, “toilet” was something common to everyone no matter where they’re from. Fair enough. The ticket counter would have done fine. But the encounter did enlighten me to the fact that they charge people to use the restroom. 20,000VND if I remember correctly. I guess it was a good conversation starter with the group.

Soon we were led onto the boat. We took up only half of it. Off season? Not the most ideal weather? You pick the reason. I was just glad to be there. The tour guide sat everyone with similar languages at particular tables. English speakers with us, Chinese speakers a the other, and the rest in the remaining tables. Not a bad idea. Lunch was served as we departed. You’ll see below, not the greatest of meals. Again, I’m for cruising the bay. The tour took about 5 hours and included a visit to one of caverns. If you want a touristy thing to do, this would be it. Next time though, I’d go private tour with a smaller boat to check out remote spots and skip the caverns. And I wouldn’t do what the tour group did, which included a six hour round trip bus ride from Hanoi to do this cruise.

White Dragon Cruises
Halong Bay, Vietnam

Verdict: Do an overnight stay on a larger boat or on one of the islands. This shouldn’t be a day trip.

Cruising Along Halong Bay

There's plenty of awesome views when you're puttering through the waters. And along with the best areas comes company, other boats racing to the scene. I think we were all going to the kayaking area where eventually, no one was able to get into the water. The local rental at the fishing village was closed due to some monetary dispute. I don't think it was specifically with our boat because no one stopped there. Unfortunate for all those eager to get in the water. In our case, kayaking was a bonus. Our organizer hadn't mentioned anything about it.

Rock Formations Along Halong Bay

So not to bore you with too many pictures of Halong Bay itself (go to Google for that), I'll only include this one. Our tour guide seemed to have a story for each piece of rock we went by. In fact, there were so many stories, I couldn't imagine they had any legendary clout to it. It almost seemed as though he made it up from the years of traveling the waters. How funny would that be?

Cucumber Salad @White Dragon

A simple salad made with cucumbers and tomatoes, topped with minced shrimp, chili peppers, and nuoc mam. We went through this pretty quickly. It may have been the first dish, but it was a good dish.

Ox Impressions: 

White Dragon Boat

Here's what we were on cruising around the bay. Not too shabby with the upper deck for viewing. There's a an area in the front where you can get a nice view from. However, it's right in front of the helmsmen. Can't imagine it would be fun for him if everyone was there, especially around all the rock formations.

Deep Fried Spring Rolls @White Dragon

Deep fry anything and you're sure to have something good. These were no exception, if you could only imagine what they were like if you hadn't. There wasn't too much inside that I can describe to you. It was all the crispy shell, which I was happy for, but inside, I think something beef or pork. That's what I'm going to tell myself. Anyways, if I had control over the meal, I wouldn't have ordered this. And actually, I think I only had one.

Ox Impressions: 

Fried Local Fish @White Dragon

One of the things you shouldn't do was to leave fried fish sitting around. It loses all the crispiness you gain from frying it in the first place. It looked fantastic, but was all mush by the time we ate it. A shame since the fish itself wasn't too bad and the lively flavors were there. Not a complete waste.

Ox Impressions: 

The OxPosted December 3, 2014 By the hungry ox

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