Wednesday, November 21

Vietnam-Cambodia, Day Five: Halong Bay

In what was now becoming a common theme for this trip, we were again up early - this time to leave Hanoi less than half a day after we had arrived. To save time we had booked a two day Halong Bay tour in Hoi An; the bay itself was three hours away from Hanoi and so although we left early we weren't going to actually be on a boat until past noon.

It was clear from pretty early on that we were literally on a tourist trail, with columns of identical beige minibuses leading us to identical white boats so that we could take part in identical tours. The first day of the tour itself was standard fare, although the boat was one of the largest I've stayed overnight on.

Halong Bay is known as one of the highlights of a trip to Vietnam, with it's pretty amazing and numerous limestone islands. Although I can see the appeal, I suspect that my sense of awe has been desensitised by the amazing things I might have seen elsewhere. That said, I never thought I would hear a Bollywood track being played on a Vietnamese junk boat.

Apart from the scenery there were some relatively cool activities to take part in, including a trip to a floating village (which essentially was just a floating platform), a 30 minute kayaking session, a quick cooking lesson and of course the obligatory sea swimming which no boat trip can ever be without. The food on board was damn good too.

We had already been impressed by the level of internet connectivity in Vietnam (it's everywhere and for example a restaurant that didn't offer free wifi with your meal was as odd as one that didn't have bathrooms), but even our boat had connectivity. A part of me was disappointed that we couldn't totally "get away" even on a boat in the middle of the sea.

The night was topped off by some Ludo and hot Take That karaoke action.

(Photos here)

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