Had a great couple of days in Halong Bay with my friends Steve and Lan Anh.
We went by Minibus on Sunday morning. I forgot my passport (and you cannot stay in a hotel without it!) so we ended going round and round Hanoi by taxi to start off the journey. But we eventually got to the bus station around 11ish. It was 40,000 VND to Halong and took around 4 hours. As it was carnaval (sic) almost every hotel was full and we ended up paying 400,000 VND for a triple room, which is 100,000 over their published rate, but beggars can't be choosers and we had to stay somewhere. It was a nice quiet room with air-con, so it was ok. First we went and ate some delicious seafood (well sensible people did (Steve doesn't eat seafood) before heading to the beach, where Steve had to go parasailing, at 180,000 VND a time. He did it three times while we were there! The night market is good in Halong and we had a few beers and an enjoyable first evening.
The next day we went on a junk around the bay. This cost 130,000 VND each, which was very good value. from around 11am to 4ish including stops at a village, beach and a cave. They didn't give us any food tho, so it was good we had a huge breakfast before getting on. Surprise cave, including a red lit penis!! was the highlight of the day, as can be seen in the pics taken by me and Steve.
After returning to Halong we went by taxi to a Vietnamese resort which I cannot remember the name of. Here we swam, Steve (obviously) went parasailing, before returning to Halong and an evening spent in the Good Coffee bar drinking beer and listening to outdoor karaoke next door..
Tuesday we spent on the beach and all had a go in a blow-up ball, which was fun running around on the sea, tied to the jetty, but because me and Steve went in together, we ran out of air pretty quickly and we both came out feeling pretty dizzy..
We caught the minibus back to Hanoi around 5pm. It broke down around 6pm. We waited for the next bus til around 7pm and arrived in Hanoi around 9.15, with the 33 other passengers on the rather cramped (seating for 18) minibus.
But altogether a fabulous time was had by all and we survived the ravages of fighting our way back to Hanoi. I will definitely go back and enjoy more of Halong's sights and foods and spend more time with the friendly people.