Halong Bay was one of the most incredible places I have ever been, no questions asked. This wonder of the world off the coast of Vietnam is made up of 1,969 towering limestone islands.
After spending 2 days in Hanoi, we were scheduled to leave for our cruise on Saturday. In what was a seemingly unfortunate turn of events, a typhoon thwarted our plans and left us stranded on the mainland. It ended up setting us on track for an even more epic experience, though! We ended up leaving Sunday on a cruise especially for 20-somethings, and spend our 72 hours making many incredible new friends!
On the first day of our cruise, we visited Surprise Cave, a system of caverns reaching deep into one of the more sizable islands. In the past, the people of the floating villages would seek refuge in these caves during storms. It is named surprise cave because the farther one explores, the larger and more impressive it becomes.
From the mouth of the caves, high up the side of the mountain, we had a beautiful view of the bay!
After perusing the caves, we jetted to a second island with an observatory on top of the cliffs. We made the hike up to take in the bay from a different vantage point, then relaxed on the beach below.
We retired back to the boat and spent night #1 there. Michaela and I had a balcony that was absolutely wonderful.. here’s a sample of the view!
We sat atop the boat to watch the sunset and enjoy the weather at night. It was really interesting to see just a bit of the way that people lived in the floating villages. It was not uncommon to see women rowing around in a floating version of a store! They would, at times, come alongside our boat to show their wares.
On the second day of our cruise we took off early for the destination for night #2: a beautiful private island! On the way we paused to jump off of the roof of the boat!
It was a jam-packed day; we started off spending some time on the beach, followed by a kayak trip around some of the neighboring islands.
In the afternoon, we left for my most anticipated activity: free solo climbing! Free soloing is a form of rock climbing done without any ropes or equipment. Because we were over the water, we could simply push back and jump off when we were done. It was quite difficult but really fun!
Finally, we finished the night back at the island with dinner, karaoke, and a breathtaking sunset. (Props to my friend David for snapping this incredible shot!)
Our final day was mostly spent traveling back to the mainland, but that’s definitely not a bad trip to make! Before lunch we had a cooking lesson and learned how to make Vietnamese spring rolls. I was basically a pro 😉
This trip and small corner of the world definitely ranks among my top life experiences! I simply couldn’t pull myself away from the beauty that was constantly surrounding us on every side.
And to close out this post, I would like to share with you my favorite (and only) Vietnamese word:
Or, oh my goodness!