Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I've just gotten back from my two-night tour on Halong Bay. It was great! So beautiful!

We left Hanoi at 8 a.m. on Sunday and drove to Halong City, from where we took a boat to the Bay. For those of you who don't know Halong Bay, parts of the film "Indochine" were filmed there. It's a lovely bay with clear water and about 2000 rock islands jutting up to the sky. After lunch on board, we visited some caves with stalactites (sp?) and stalacmites. Then swam and sat on a beach. The first night we spent on board, eating, talking and, after dinner, gazing up at the stars. The next morning we were taken to Cat Ba Island, After a short bus ride, we arrived at our hotel, where we dropped off our luggage. After that we "trekked" for three hours through jungle-like terrain up and down a mountain to get a beautiful view of the bay. Back to the hotel for lunch, then another boat trip to Monkey Island, where we got into kayaks and swam, for about two hours. Dinner back at the hotel, followed by having drinks at the local beer hall. This morning, we got up early and drove back to the boat on the other side of the island. They took us to a great cove to swim and then to a fishing village and some tunnels. Then back to Halong City for lunch and the drive back to Hanoi.

One of the nicest things about the trip was our group. The first night there were 12 of us. I was the "doyenne" of the group, but everyone was very kind and accepting. There was Mike from G.B., Jesse (who owns a record label) from Australia, Chris and Karline from Australia, Jonathan (a university prof of tourism) from N.Z., Jean-Luc and Gisele from Grenoble, FR, a Vietnamese brother and sister, Stephanie from southwestern France, Sandrine from Normandy, and me. Stephanie and Sandrine actually both work on a French petroleum-seeking ship presently off the coast of Malayasia. Stephanie is the ship's nurse and Sandrine one of the navigators. They work 12 hour shifts for 5 weeks, then have 5 weeks off to travel or go back to France. Great girls. After the first night, the French couple and the Vietnamese brother and sister left us, and we joined up with another 8 people. But the bonds between the original group were formed and we all felt we'd had a wonderful bonding experience. Everyone is on his or her own trip, with their own story, which makes it very exciting. So many young people out there visiting the world these days. I'm sure Marc, Seb and Eric you would enjoy "doing" southeast Asia. On top of visiting some very interesting and beautiful places, you'd meet some wonderful people traveling like you as you go.

Tomorrow is my last day in Vietnam. Since I didn't get up to Sapa to see the mountain tribes, I plan to go to the Hanoi Museum of Ethnology, which I've read is excellent, and to see Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts near the presidential palace. I don't leave for Beijing via Seoul until midnight, so it's going to be a long day. Hope I can travel as easily in China as I have in Vietnam, since I haven't planned anything in advance besides my first three nights in a hotel in Beijing. Hope to get to Xian, the Yangtse River and maybe Shanghai. Luckily, some people on the tour gave me a few tips.

Well, that's all for now folks.




At October 18, 2006 3:26 AM, Anonymous maura said...

Hilary - I had missed this entry. Glad I went back to read it. Halong Bay sounds beautiful. Glad you met some nice people. How does one get a job a job as a navigator on an oil ship??

Looking forward to your thoughts on Seoul. maura


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