A wonderful sunny morning greeted me when I took my shower. Imagine waking up to such a view every morning…
Most people on board had booked the two-day-one night tour in Ha Long Bay. Since I had time and wanted to relax I had booked the 3 day tour. An Australian couple and I were the only ones who stayed on board after everyone else left for the morning program. While waiting for our day ship to pick us up, I went on the observatory deck and took some pictures.
The day ship would be our “home” until the late afternoon. We met our lovely guide and started with an excursion to a pearl farm. She showed us the different types of oysters used for farming with the Akoya being the smallest and the most common.
Since they die when the pearl is removed they also breed them.
From the breeding station we walked to the “operating room” where they implant a small ball made from mother-of-pearl with a piece of membrane into the oyster. After five weeks the oysters get checked if they survived the operation. The success rate lies by 70%.
Before going into the customary shop she opened one oyster ready to be harvested and voila:
The pearls can develop different colors depending on the mother-of-pearl inside the oyster.
The rest of the day was spent with relaxing. We went to one cove for swimming in the morning then spent the time until lunch reading or sleeping. Lunch was wonderful again and after that more sleeping, reading, swimming.
Mid afternoon we went kayaking where I noticed that I have no hand for it. I shared the kayak with the guide and she was definitely drenched by the time we returned. Nonetheless she abode with me and we went through a cave to an inlet where we saw lots of jellyfish. They just stayed in the inlet and didn’t go out in the ocean. I touched a couple and they felt very slippery. Also when you took them out of the water they dropped their long tentacles. But when you put them back into the water they could still swim. So no harm done.
On the way back to day boat we saw monkeys climbing overhead and jumping from tree to tree. I felt a bit like in a documentary. Such near contact to wildlife is usually not part of my daily life.
Upon our return to the cruise ship we found it empty. All the newcomers must be swimming at the beach. At dinner that evening I shared the table with the Australian couple but later I couldn’t be bothered with squid fishing. I already knew it would not be successful.
The next morning I woke early and got ready. We had a cave visit on our program at around 8am. The Surprise Cave was just a short boat ride away.
Since most cruise ships were stopping here before heading back it was slow going to the cave entrance. But the view remedied it.
Once inside the cave I couldn’t stop taking pictures. It was divided into three chambers with the first one being the smallest one, getting ever bigger along the walk. The cave was set up for a one way visit with another view over the bay waiting at the end. Also a very clever thing with the amount of visitors here daily.
Back on board of our ship we had to check out of the room and get ready for a cooking class of fried spring rolls. The ones we were doing were filled with minced pork, onions, spring onions, coriander and a bit of chilies (probably more ingredients went in, but I can’t remember anymore). The chef was mixing the filling and we had to roll them tight, gluing the end with egg white to fix the paper in place.
While waiting for the chef to finish lunch I took my last pictures of the bay.
Shortly afterwards we had lunch and then we were back in the harbor, getting on mini bus that was packed to the last seat (here some of the smaller buses have an aisle in the middle which can be closed in case of necessity with an extra seat).
We had another stop at a shop with a bathroom on the way back to Hanoi where I saw this fruit vendor in the back. They sliced the fruits freshly in front of you and you got them in a small bag with a large wooden pick to eat.
Finally we were back in Hanoi on the way to the hotel.
I had time to re-pack my small backpack and look for some dinner. I decided on noodles with beef and herbs.
For dessert I had a plum lemon tea which had some jelly at the bottom.
I had just enough time left to take a shower, update the blog a bit and was then already on the way to the train station. Tonight I was going to Sa Pa. Yours, Pollybert