We awoke early to the sounds of gentle wave action. I poked my head out the window to look at the surroundings. Soon we heard some of our shipmates swimming, shouting encouragement to us to join them. We somehow resisted, perhaps it was thoughts of the water quality, but I did wander topside to take a few photos and shoot a short video.
After breakfast the Imperial cruised over to one of the float villages where we had an opportunity to spend an hour kayaking. I grabbed a PFD only to discover half the straps where broken, so I grabbed another but half the floatation was gone. Eventually I settled on a semi-decent PFD, but it never would have passed Canadian Coast Guard regs. We were ushered into our kayaks with no instruction or directions. Sue and I were fine of course, but I felt for those in our group who had no kayaking experience. I’d previously talked to two English girls who’d no experience, assuring them there was nothing to worry about. Now I wasn’t so sure. But the waters were calm and we all stuck fairly close by. We had no guide – our tour guide stayed behind. Sue and I paddled off, Sue in the stern again so that I could photograph. We spotted a large cavern so paddled over to take a look. Signs seemed to forbid any landing, so we drifted off-shore taking a look.
The English girls appeared safe and happy.
We paddled around the islands and float villages, discovering different views and perspectives. Interesting rock formations appeared as we drifted along.
The locals place altars wherever they can find a bit of space without interfering with UNESCO guidelines.
Eventually it was time to start heading back to Ha Long City. We lounged on the deck, enjoying the view. Here we see a corner of the boat’s bridge, with a dragon decoration. Ha Long Bay was formed by a family of dragons protecting Vietnam from the Chinese.
The islands faded in the atmospheric mists as we sailed back.
Going the other way in the morning mists were fishing boats.
Our trip to Ha Long Bay was a wonderful weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. Fresh ocean air; amazing seascapes; awe-inspiring caves and total comfort were just what we needed. We had one last meal together in a huge restaurant for tour patrons. We met some great folks, had good times and good food. The ride back was very subdued with many of us dozing off in the bus. Eventually we were back in the busy traffic of Hanoi and were let off close to the Camellia where we sat and talked with our friends before heading home. All in all a great escape!