Bay-bay, bay-bay, bay-bay, OOHHH!
Said Justin Bieber once. All along, we thought it was a love song, but actually, it was an ode to the bays of the world.
Well, talking of bays, here’s my own ode to a certain bay. Namely the Ha Long Bay.
Now, before we get to the actual bay, let’s get to the contents page. This post ain’ just a scenic post about sea travel, it’s an entire anthology, of food and drink, of boats and rocks and an a hidden cave, concealing the ghosts of unfulfilled love.
But what I don’t understand is the need for this opera to begin at seven in the morning!
In Vietnam, most of the tour buses come out for pick-up at seven am on the dot. For the people who are the early birds, this is heaven on Earth, but for us night owls, this ain’ the time we function. But then again, night owls on holiday don’t need sleep, they need answers. So they do end up getting on the bus and setting out to fulfil their wanderlust.
Fast forward three hours, passing rice fields and certain graves and a lacquer museum, this is the scene that signals the bay mode to turn on.
And now we actually rock the Bay, baby!
Welcome Aboard the Flamingo Cruise!
+ = Flamingo Cruise
An then, we set sail!!!!
This was a one night stay on the cruise ship, so we actually had rooms on the ship. Rooms with slightly erratic air-conditioning but then again who needs ACs when you’ve got sea breeze right? Not quite, it’s really humid! Like humid enough for people to go;
But no one can complain when the view’s something like….
It makes one heart go on and on….
‘We’re all going on a summer holiday
No more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday,
No more worries for me or you,
For a week or two.’
That’s Cliff Richard.
And that’s a cliff.
And that’s a ship surrounded by cliffs.
And that’s the view so far!
Lunch was quite a fancy affair, starting with soup and bread. The soup was what I called ‘butter-flavoured’ but I’m pretty sure that ain’ the technical term. However, it was delicious.
The rest of the meal was spring rolls and a fish fillet with a salad topped with a prawn. And though this sounds like a regular menu, the aesthetic was truly top notch!
Now, after lunch, there was an option between two activities; Kayaking or learning about oyster culture. Here’s a thing when you travel with mum and dad, they wanted to learn about oyster culture. But I managed to pull them over to my side and the next thing I knew, I was in a kayak with my mother. Trust me, this should be an incident that everyone should experience at least once. We started off with nearly capsizing between some barrels but when we finally got on track and started rowing forward, mummy dear puts down her oar and brings out the camera. And then we get this masterpiece.
Pro tip: If you’re with your mum and faced with the option of rowing ahead or looking at the camera she so earnestly holds up, look at the camera. Don’t ask questions, look at the camera.
Oh, and here’s the cave unto which we kayaked(That is a word!).
Jokes apart, the kayak route was rather daunting. Deep water, surrounded by cliffs and vegetation, that’s some goose-pimples right there.
And here’s the oyster culture site where we never went.
Pearls of wisdom for another time, maybe.
After all the kayaking with mum, the cruise ship took us to Ti Top beach. It was by far the smallest beach I’d ever seen. More of a sandy mini-island than a full beach but swimming after rowing was a great cool-off.
See those white balls bobbing in the distance? That’s the swimming limit. Beyond that, there’s deep water and jellyfish.
And this is Ti Top, the bloke after whom the beach was named….
And that’s the sunset, not long after….
And a bit long after that, the sun rose again and we were packed into a ferry and into Sung Sot Caves, also known as Surprise Cave.
Now, the beginning was rather jolting cause, remember I spoke of erratic air conditioning? Our room, had practically no AC. And then, I spoke of being a night owl that doesn’t wake up? That combined with me wearing Crocs and nearly falling into the sea was how the trip started. Pro Tip: Do not wear Crocs on a ferry.
On reaching the cave, we had to climb a huge flight of spiral stairs cause I guess the opening was somewhere up a cliff. That was one morning cardio challenge but as Miley Cyrus rightly said, ‘Life’s a climb; But the view’s great!’
That’s what she meant.
Anyway, here’s the cave. There were bears.
There was however one Romeo and Juliet story.
A fisherman was in love with a rich girl and she reciprocated it. But her daddy said no hence she fled and hid in a cave. Her beau followed suite but at the end, they both died.
‘Romeo save me, they’re trying to tell me how to feel;
This love is difficult, but it’s so re-eal.’
Except in the song, they get married but here, death did them apart way too soon.
On another note, check out the stalactites and stalagmites and salt depositions. It will boost your geological quotient.
Back to the cruise ship, with yet another heart stopping slip which sent me into Neptune’s abode, courtesy my crocs, it was time for Pho. The last lunch on the ship.
it took a while before we docked, back where we came, and that was the voyage’s end.
And that is a wrap!
Until next time.