Overnight at Ha Long Bay

Continued from… Visiting Hanoi

The next day, my friends and I hired a car to take us to Ha Long Bay, a world heritage site with its 1600 islands and islets of limestone formed over millions of years. We went directly to the harbour to board our boat. It was a traditional junk boat, which fortunately for us, was all ours for the overnight trip. There were no other passengers so we had the entire upper deck, restaurant and lounge as well as the four cabins to ourselves.

rope on deck

cabin

I have always loved boat rides and as we made our way across the Gulf of Tonkin, I spent a lot of time on the outer deck enjoying the feel of the sea spray and the chilly wind. The beautiful rock formations loomed ahead and it was fun trying to figure out shapes in some unique rock formations.

stone dog

witch in the rock

karst

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We eventually docked at one point and the guide took us on a tour of  Thien Cung grotto (the Heavenly palace cave). The impressive stalactites and stalagmites were highlighted by surreal lighting.

underground cavelimestone karsts

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pathway

After re-boarding our boat, we resumed our sea journey. We passed a lovely floating fishing village.

Floating fish market

Floating fishing village

Our boat eventually entered a lovely cove, where there were only a few other barges, and dropped anchor for the night.

Halong Bay early morning

That evening, we took our time over the delicious dinner that the crew had cooked for us. While I did enjoy our conversations and it was lovely to share the experience with friends, I enjoyed my moments of solitude the most on this visit to Ha Long bay. Especially the moments when I watched the sea, as rays of sunlight broke through the clouds or as the sun set…

Light breaking through cloudsSunset at Halong Bay

and especially the next morning, as I watched dawn break over the gulf and the sun gradually rose above the horizon. It was a spiritual moment and I felt happy and content.

Sunrise at Halong Bay

Halong Bay sunrise

As the boat lifted its anchor, I made my way back to the restaurant to enjoy my morning cup of coffee and wait for my friends to join me for breakfast.

Back to port

[I am sharing this post at the Weekend Wanderlust link up and The Weekly Postcard]

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Travel Notes & Beyond