Early in the morning we said goodbye to busy Hanoi and got on a bus to Halong city docks to get on a party boat for the next three days and two nights around Halong Bay, one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. On the way to Halong docks we got to know the people we would be staying with for the next few days. There was a lot of fellow Brits was well as some Americans, Dutch and Germans.
After a bumpy ride at the back of the bus we finally got to Halong docks and boarded our boat. It was a lot more spacious than I expected and we each had proper rooms like a hotel room rather than dorms, a dining room, and a large upper deck with a foosball table and deck chairs. It was an amazing space and we quickly all grabbed rooms before being served an amazing lunch of local foods. As we headed into the bay the boats spread out and it really did feel like we were out there on our own. It was such a magical journey into the bay and we enjoyed the view with drinks on the sun chairs. When we got to a particular spot we got off the boat and kayaked for a while into the bay, listening to the wild monkeys on the little islands. Kayaking was hard work though and made the idyllic scenes around a bit more strenuous! We then returned to the boat where we were able to jump off the top into the water. It looks quite high up and so was a bit of a rush. We then had some dinner which again was amazing and got ready for the evening. It was actually very chilled for a party boat and we ended up sitting on the top deck just chatting rather than partying and went to bed at a very civilised time.
The next day we got up early and had to get ready to leave the boat. We were heading to a private island that day whilst half of us went back to the mainland as they were only on a two day one night cruise. On the way to the island we stopped off at this rock that said clearly no jumping for a spot of cliff humping. There were two routes, an easy way up with a high drop and a hard way up but a shorted drop. I was the only one to climb up to the shorter drop which somehow impressed quite a few people and after feeling confident enough to jump from higher up I then climbed up to the high cliff and jumped off that. There was a rock in the way which you had to dodge to not collide with it and I was so scared of being pushed the wrong way but I managed to pull it off and it was really fun! Just as I was down to do it again, it felt a stinging sensation on my leg and realised there were jellyfish in the water. I quickly got out of there and after numerous offers of urine on my leg to cure the stinging I was told by the locals that it wasn't bad and I would be fine. We then headed off to the private island and had again some amazing lunch.
The island was something really special. We landed on the beach and could see the other beach from where we landed. It was a small strip of land that was inhibitable with large cliffs on either side , making it a large island. However the space we stayed was small and we stayed in the one of two buildings on the land in small dorm rooms to fit all of us. There were hammocks everywhere and it was really special. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hammocks, reading, sunbathing and exploring the island. There were some dogs on the island and we soon found out that the girl doggie had had some puppies. They were being kept in damp, unclean conditions but the puppies were adorable. I just felt so sorry for them for having such a nasty living space. However, it was clear that the owners saw the puppies as an inconvenience and would be getting rid of them as soon as possible. I hope wherever they are they are ok.
After a jam packed day we stayed on the island for dinner and got some drinks for the evening and a game of beer pong going. Many locals from the bay came to the island for dinner in the evening and we had locals watching us with intrigue whilst we playing drinking games. Some even asked to have a go themselves! The next morning I woke up to wild gibbons signing in the trees on the cliffs surrounding us. It was magical to hear and I moved to a hammock to enjoy the scene better. After breakfast we left the island and went back to the boat we had stayed on the night before. We had lunch there and then headed back to the mainland and the end of our trip in Halong Bay.
It was an amazing trip and I would recommend spending a bit to go on a cruise around Halong Bay. It is incredibly beautiful but is also seeing the cost of pollution and litter so please be kind to the nature to keep it that way. We headed back to Hanoi with happy hearts and lot of memories for the next portion of our trip.