Thursday, May 16, 2024

Ha Long Bay Escapade: Nature's Splendor and Culinary Delights

The morning started with an unusually early wake-up call at 6.00am. We grabbed breakfast before embarking on the long drive to Ha Long Bay, setting off promptly at 8:00 am. Throughout the day, we made a few comfort stops and enjoyed lunch, but for the most part, we were seated on the coach, trying to shake off the fatigue that had accumulated from days of non-stop sightseeing. Did I manage to catch some shut-eye? You bet I did. Exhaustion from constant walking and exploring during this trip through Vietnam and Cambodia ( Siem Reap, Angkor Wat & HCMH) had taken its toll. 

As we journeyed towards Ha Long Bay, heavy rain slowed us down, prolonging our travel time. Finally, we arrived at our hotel around 9:00 pm, had dinner, and retreated to our rooms for some well-deserved rest. Amidst it all, some curious fellow travelers couldn't help but wonder why I was traveling alone and where my husband was, with a few even attempting to uncover my marital status. But honestly, I paid little attention to their inquiries - after all, Malaysians have a reputation for being quite inquisitive.

By 8:30 am, eagerly joining the queue for our Ha Long Bay Cruise by 9:00 am. The weather was nothing short of wondrous, with the wind blowing gently as we boarded our Vietnamese boat, fortunate enough to have it all to ourselves. Cruising through Ha Long Bay was an absolute delight. With its UNESCO World Heritage status and reputation as one of the natural wonders of the world, it was bound to be a winner. The sight of majestic mountains, crystal-clear waters, and boats gliding up and down made it feel like we were sailing through paradise itself.

After about half an hour of cruising, we made a stop at Dau Go Cave, which was included in our cruise itinerary. Getting off the boat wasn't the easiest task, but with the help of the boat crew, we managed to make our way into the cave in a single file. Dau Go Cave was sincerely admirable, with its breathtaking beauty leaving us in awe. Known as the Cave of Wonder, it boasted the largest and most stunning grotto in Ha Long Bay, showcasing magnificent rock formations in various shapes and sizes, adorned with colorful lights. However, I couldn't help but feel that the colorful lights were a bit overdone, detracting from the natural beauty of the cave. In my opinion, simple white or yellow lights would have sufficed, allowing the cave's natural splendor to shine through without any unnecessary distractions. 

After spending a mesmerizing 20 minutes exploring the depths of the cave, we made a U-turn and headed back to the bay, boarding our boat once again. The return journey offered the same stunning scenery, allowing us to soak in the beauty of Ha Long Bay one last time. Our cruise package included a sumptuous lunch served on board, featuring an array of seafood and vegetarian dishes. From stir-fried veggies to freshly caught seafood, each dish was a culinary delight, made even more satisfying by the knowledge that the ingredients were sourced fresh from Vietnamese waters. We ate to our heart's content, savoring every bite before reaching the pier and bringing our unforgettable Ha Long Cruise to a close by 1:30 pm. 

Our next stop was a visit to a Coffee Café, which also doubled as a mini coffee factory. Here, we immersed ourselves in the rich history of coffee in Vietnam, learning about the various techniques and equipment used in coffee processing. While Vietnamese coffee is renowned worldwide, I found it to be a bit too thick for my taste, despite my appreciation for its bitterness. Having already indulged in coffee during breakfast and lunch, I decided to skip purchasing any coffee samples and instead focused on soaking up knowledge about Vietnamese coffee culture - a truly enlightening experience for any coffee enthusiast.

Ha Long Bay trip was truly unforgettable, a memory that I will cherish for years to come. As a nature lover and someone who finds solace in the soothing embrace of water, the unspoiled beauty of Ha  Long Bay left me mesmerized. From the moment we set sail until our return journey, the scenic vistas captivated my senses, offering a sense of tranquility that I had long yearned for. And let's not forget about the lunch - it was a culinary delight that left me wanting more. If you ever find yourself in Vietnam, missing out on a Halong Bay experience would be a regrettable oversight.

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