Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hạ Long Bay…What can I say?

I won't dwell on Vietnam’s history or its geographical location nor its currency and population. All these info are just a  “Google” or “Wikipedia” away. As a matter of fact,  I am certain that all words which both describe and define Vietnam have been creatively used by these kick-ass travel writers and bloggers. So long story short, we had the most wonderful vacation in Halong Bay last November 2009. Here are the snapshots we took  during our (post-engagement) trip.

This has been an on-going tradition by Me & Eric, making our mark on every shore we set foot on. The idea started when we went to Boracay Island on 2007.

Trudge, embarking with us

Good evening Hanoi! Statues built in honor of the Vietnamese Soldiers who died during the French War.

First meal in Vietnam, an authentic Pho Ba in the streets of Hanoi. Pho Ba means  beef noodles in Vietnamese.

We don't know the name of the stall we ate from, but this is its signage

The morning after at Hoan Kiem Lake

The killer Vietnamese Drip. Their native coffee which will really (and I mean REALLY!) jumpstart your day.

 Eric's face when took a sip...

Those earthbound street nooks are common in Hanoi. They have this thing for mini-stools and table. It probably has to to with the climate.

Common means of living among locals are fruit vending.

Unlike in The Philippines vendors here do not yell to get thier buyers attention. 

Our travel guide to Halong Bay, Columbus Adventure travel. We were waiting for a couple more tourists and all roads off to Halong Bay

Halfway through our road trip, we made a pit stop for toilet break and refreshments.

Ahhh yes, this is may favorite part of every tour. Souvenirs and I mean unique and handcrfated souvenirs.

They are converting a postcard into a handicraft, amazing!

I'd say, if embriodery is a sport, these Vietnamese ladies will surely be the world champ!

Finally, after 3 hours of cold and dustry road trip, we are finally at the Halong Bay Jetty.

Trudge also getting a souvenir shot

Bon Voyage Mainland Vietnam!

Bridge portion of our junk

 Our room snug yet cozy room. Red petals and hearts aren't really my thing, but I appreciate the effort and creativity of the staff.

Famous spot in the postcards. This is a view right before you enter the Sung Sot Cave other wise known as Cave of Surprises.

Inside the Sung Sot Cave. It was named such due to the formations found inside by the locals and first-time visitors. Such as rabbit, dog and even a male genital. Surprising indeed! 

See what  I mean? 

The Scene while we were relaxing on the lounge deck of our junk
Ahhhhh more scenic views

Local vendors selling refreshments to the tourists near the fishing village

Trudge is also enjoying the view

Kayaking on a misty cold morning! yeah, bring it on!

Hoan, our guide, entering  the "throaty" formation of that limestone. 

Oh yeah! R&R indeed!

This was on our way to Cat Ba Island, an exclusive tour for guests who are taking a 2-night stay at Columbus Travel 
Our service boat to the secluded beach.

oh, this goes with lunch too!

We got barbecue fish, a salad and grilled beef. We stuff ourselves for the next adventure.

An hour of scenic bike ride to a local village.

we had a Vietnamese tea served by our host...too bad I could not remember her name.
We were with our guides and our fellow tourists Maria and David from Washington D.C.

Souvenir shot with our humble host before we took off.

After our 2nd day itinerary, we went back to our junk for another ...oh yes, R&R, dinner and fun as in karaoke and dancing. On our last  day, we rose as early as 5:30 to greet the sunrise. The foggy and misty surrounding blends well with its remote silence. 
Early morning, just me, eric behind the lens & my music.

 I went up to the lounge deck for some quite time with my music silently blasting from my iPod. As the sunrise takes over the foggy surrounding, I had a clear sight of the jade waters. Its stillness was very inviting, so I braved the cold waters for a swim after we had breakfast. It was  not really freezing just "fridge-cold" yet being Asian who's born and bred in the tropics I already shivered after a short while. Out of curiosity, I tasted it (what the heck,right?). It wasn't as salty as the seawater  like I expected but it is saltier than the river's freshwater (weird). We spent the whole morning capturing our last few moments with the proud and massive limestone formations while heading back to the Halong Bay Jetty. 

Finally,  lunchtime came and also time to bid our newfound friends farewell. It was truly heartbreaking to leave this paradise, as everything that appears on your window seem to be a moving  frame every second and it somehow stays with you. In fact, the pictures we took were just secondary compared to the experience we had. Seeing the place for ourselves, its 360-picturesque surrounding and the fun and adventure we had were just priceless and indescribable. 

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