On the day of our cruise trip, Jaime and I missed our shuttle. I originally thought that we’d have to go through our cruise’s main office (which was a bit far from where we stayed) but it turns out, there was a shuttle that would pick us up from our hostel. There was a bit of miscommunication in the emails I exchanged with the cruise officer. I was almost in tears, thinking they’d leave us because there were other travelers the shuttle has to pick up along the way. I even told Jaime that we should probably Uber all the way to the port when he told me we were about 4 hours away (god I was crazy). Thankfully, the people in the office called the shuttle driver, and even though we were late, they still picked us up. I’m so grateful for kind, Vietnamese hospitality.
It was mine and Jaime’s first trip on a cruise together, and aside from the mishap wherein we almost got left behind by the shuttle, there were a lot of things that made it a memorable one. Ha Long Bay’s islands and views were too beautiful that no photo or video could possibly do them justice. I was also practically having the time of my life, drinking Vietnam coffee and sitting our in our deck too much. I didn’t care that it was freezing.
The joke was on me, clearly, because right after our first night, I got a cold.
Our room was spacious and we had this lovely deck all to ourselves. It’s where I probably got my cold, yes, but also where we got to enjoy endless (!!) amounts of Vietnamese coffee while overlooking the islands.
There were a lot of activities to do on board, including Tai Chi morning classes (which neither Jaime and I woke up to, even if we tried), squid fishing (which I sadly didn’t get any, I fail at everything), Vietnamese film viewing, and a cooking class. They taught us how to make my favorite !!! – Vietnamese spring rolls.
Cave and island hopping was included in our package and we toured around Sung Sot Cave, otherwise known as “Surprise” cave, which is apparently Ha Long’s most popular cave. The name comes from when the French have supposedly discovered it, thus calling it “surprising.” Funny enough, our tour guide joked about how it’s also the “surprise” cave because you never know what you will find. He pointed out animal shapes and patterns formed inside the cave, which are also a part of Vietnam’s folklore about Ha Long Bay.
What I love about our cruise is that you’re mostly free to explore the decks on your own. It’s a quiet time perfect to take in the beauty of Ha Long Bay, now listed as one of the seven wonders of the world.
The legend of Ha Long Bay
Long ago, Vietnam had a war to fight against the North. In order to help them, Mother Dragon sent her children. The dragons then spat out jewels into the sea, which are said to have formed invisible walls that defended Vietnam from their enemies. After the invaders fled, the dragons stayed to protect Vietnam.
It is said that the dragons’ backs and tails are the now thousands upon thousands of islands that lay along Ha Long – which translates to “descending dragon” – bay.
Tuan Chau Island