Monday, December 31, 2012

Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island, and Monkey Island

Halong Bay is a must-see in Vietnam, and everyone knows it. So it’s a busy place. And the only way to get here from Hanoi is by doing a package tour. We’re skeptical of the Package Tour, but this one worked out very well, and though it was beyond our budget, it was worth it.

As soon as you get close to Halong Harbour, the trademark limestone peaks start to appear majestic and ghostly in the distant haze. And from the harbor they form a series of walls, ringing the bay, and you just can’t wait to get out among them. As you move toward them, individual peaks and lumps and mountains become distinct from the wall, and you begin to make out their individual forms and features until they’re looming in front of you, dwarfing the boats at their base. You glide past the silent sentinels, and marvel at such a magnificent result of geological evolution.

We also visited Cat Ba National Park on Cat Ba Island and the views from the fire tower show what Halong Bay might look like without the water. We also stopped briefly at Monkey Island to watch some macaque antics and admire the views from the highest point on the small island, though I have to say I aborted the climb just before I reached the top – climbing over the jagged, razor sharp edges of the limestone was just too scary!

We’ve been eating our money’s worth on the tour, and each meal is a veritable feast compared to the simple and cheap meals we’ve been having! At least one dish at each meal is a phenomenal artwork of fruit and vegetable carving – I’ve never eaten a rose-shaped carrot before!

Waiting to board our junk. (That's what they call the boats!)

Junks crowding in to let passengers off to see the Surprise Cave.

Surprise! It's really, really big!

Totally edible arrangement.

Cat Ba National Park

Fishing village off Cat Ba Island

Arriving at Monkey Island.

Beautiful coral beach!

Monkey, Mark. Mark, monkey.

Getting a headstart on NYE celebrations...

1 comment:

  1. Wow wow wow! Amberlea! Looks like you guys are having the time of your life! Your pictures are amazing! We are leaving in 21 days and looking at your blog is getting me even more excited! I hope you are doing well!

    Alex (from Obasan)