After having early breakfast, we started for Ha Long Bay Cruise. A comfortable mini bus was arranged for us, and the journey took around two hours.
For more than 25 years, this area is producing cultured pearls. On the way, there is a huge showroom of these pearls. You can see the whole process of making these pearls here. Also you can buy Pearl Jewelry there.
The famous sea mountains f Ha Long Bay were already visible. The words Ha Long means “descending dragon”. This area features thousands of limestone karsts. There are around 2000, but out of them 775 islets are concentrated in an area of 334 square kilometers. These are geographical wonders and are UNESCO world heritage site now.
The locals believe that the dragon from heaven had come to their rescue and when requested, stayed back for them. These tiny mountains are part of dragon’s tail. (Well, they do look like !)
We soon reached a vast wharf created for the cruise liners. I really liked the arrangement of welcoming the guests at the wharf. They soon collected our bags and carried them to our designated rooms on the cruise.
The cruise and rooms were super cool. Nothing less than a star hotel. The water was calm and the sailing was smooth. The crew consisted of many young girls and boys and they knew their jobs well. (I notice this in almost all the establishments in Vietnam. The young attendants are smart, efficient and always smiling.)
A lunch was arranged very soon and it was 5 course affair ! A printed program was handed over to all of us and it was flowed punctually for next twenty four hours.
Soon we were passing by the beautiful karsts. Each one had unique shape. Most of them ad caves at the bottom. There were many ships of different sizes in the area, but still each one was following the designated route.
In the afternoon we reached a Pearl Farm. Here also there was a small showroom of pearls and the in calm waters the actual pearls were “cultured.” Self help kayaking was available there.
Then around evening we reached Tip Top island. This conical mountain has a small beach at its base. We climbed to the top (110 meters) of this island (around 450 steps) and the view from top was fantastic. We did spend some time there and returned to the cruise for dinner. It was again a multi course affair and some movie screening was arranged on the deck. I preferred sleeping in my room.
Got up early next day and went to the deck. The morning was very pleasant. (Did not even notice, if the cruise was moving or was still, during night.)
After breakfast, we went to see Sung Sot caves. This is a huge cave comprising of various formations. There is a sweet water pond inside and it was known to fishermen for centuries. This cave have a very well laid pathway and adequate lighting. The tourist facilities are great !
After the cave visit, we returned to the cruise. A brunch was served and we were requested to check out of the rooms. Our luggage was delivered at the wharf.
The office at wharf had a print out of pick up arrangements for all of us. Thanks to the meticulous planning of Jindo, we never felt helpless. Though I was the only vegetarian on the tour, my food was taken care of on the cruise also.
We returned to Hanoi.
To be continued…