The day we were going to cruise along Halong Bay had arrived. We were awake an hour early as Shan hadn't changed his clock back an hour after China and had set the alarms. (Now we are 6 hours ahead of GMT). Good job we were up early as we hadn't packed and then couldn't find passports, we have our safe place for them but for some reason they were put in a different place, so a few minutes of panic ensued.
Had breakfast and then mini bus arrived. 4 hours later arrived at Halong Bay and boarded the 'Emeraude' our home for the night. There were 14 of us in total on the boat, (which could accommodate for 44 people ish). Along with us were an expat living in Bangkok and her Thai parter, a European couple, a Korean man and Asian parter and 4 very nosey ass Korean ladies (who didn't shut the heck up the whole way on bus, making 'something caught in my throat' noises as well as loud yapping).
Our cabin on the Emeraude was a decent size with a window looking out upon the ever changing stunning scenery. We had a 'welcome aboard' mocktail before departing and cruising along. We had a buffet lunch then relaxed on the top deck by ourselves, the boat was a good size that at times we felt like it was just us.
We dropped the anchor at 'Sung Sot Grotto' and visited a large cave, which on the cliff face offered us stunning views.
Back aboard we stuffed our faces with crepes, then hopped on a floating market that was a pearl farm, we watched men at work opening oysters and inserting an antibody to produce the pearl, then watched as another oyster was carefully prised open and a pearl was inside.
Back on board we relaxed, although we could've kayaked but weren't fussed and there was a hidden charge of $12. Later we watched the chef make Vietnamese spring rolls and garnish with tomato. Then we got to attempt it, I made a spring roll and got to eat it, then Shan made a rose out of a tomato.
We relaxed in our air conditioned cabin and cooled some beers we had brought with us, using the air conditioning unit. (Drinks were not included in the price we paid). We then had another buffet for dinner, washed down with purchased beer and cocktails. After dinner we relaxed in a peaceful spot at the bow of the boat before watching the movie that was being played on a big screen. The film was 'Indochine' and I found it so (can't think of words) so enthralling and emotional. The film was based on the end of the French rule of Indochina, and featured the very place we were bobbing about in, Halong Bay. The screen was outside and it was humid so Shannon left me engrossed in the film while he retreated to the cabin.
In the morning I dragged Shan out of bed at the crack of dawn to participate in a group session of Tai Chi, although only one of the Korean ladies also joined in. Shan felt silly and bowed out after the warm up, and I must admit I did feel silly copying the instructor not getting the steps in time and having no rhythm as usual.
Afterwards for breakfast we had yet another buffet. After we packed up our two small rucksacks and relaxed as we floated past some of the 3000+ Islands that make up Halong Bay.
We both really enjoyed our trip and although it cost us around £200 it was a 5* boat and it was worth it just for the amount of food we consumed, never mind the breathtaking scenery we were surrounded by. There is plenty of boats and tours to choose from and we are glad we picked this quiet and relaxed boat, at night we heard party boats anchored nearby and were glad we weren't on that.
Then we said our farewells to the friendly staff and disembarked with 4 hours drive back to Hanoi. I spent most of my time glued to my book 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'.
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