We spent 3 days in one hotel in Hanoi, changed hotels for a night, left our extraneous stuff, souvenirs and the like and took off for a voyage on the Dragon Pearl. Think Johnny Depp and Pirates of the Caribbean. Instead of a tall ship, this Pearl is a 3 story handmade junk. 10 lucky folks and us boarded the Indochina Junk for a 3 day cruise through Bai Tu Long Bay. We left Hanoi euphoric that we still had all our body parts, a little concerned about our malaria meds not showing up and excited about being on the water for 3 days. Hanoi weather had been cool and cloudy with morning drizzle so the hope of seeing the famous karst formations in the sunshine was fading. We told ourselves it will still be great on the water on a beautiful boat. And it was.
Ha Long Bay borders on the Gulf of Tonkin and is a major tourist destination. All boats depart from its harbor and the scene is so congested it resembles a water version of Hanoi traffic. We read about a bay further north which was far less travelled, the karsts only slightly less dramatic and claimed minimal tourist and environmental impact. We signed on and took a breather from Hanoi.
We were absolutely in love with our boat. Weather, schmeather, we could hang out anywhere and pretend we were members of an Emperor’s entourage. Drinks on deck, delicious chef prepared meals, big windows, fresh sea air and incredible views.
We also met 10 other delightful people from Brisbane, Winnipeg, and Stockholm. We were on a 2 night- 3 day cruise that allowed us to go out the furthest from Ha Long Harbor. We played making fried spring rolls, kayaking, swimming, caving, sleeping on a beach after BBQ, and drinking as previously mentioned.