Trip and Surf Journal: Sun 6.16 (Halong Bay Day 1)

Halong Bay overnight boat trip.  Touron tour. Craziest sunset of my life?

It was a magical hour for our family that made some of the less sweet parts of a “tour package” all worth it

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Bus, we had it good actually

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Rad cave exploration, but we are getting snobby!

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The boat and rooms and food were really pretty good — and amazing value

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Happy Father’s Day!

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We were not alone, and it didn’t matter, at least for a night :)

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We are on a bus all kinda jammed up thankfully in the front.  Exiting Hanoi, 07:30 pick up.  It’s been an early morning.  I am breathing cool, feeling good we got packed up, got breakfast, got picked up for our Halong Bay boat trip overnight, have our bags stored, hotel peeps are tipped and hopefully our bags don’t disappear while were gone, I think I have our next stop dialed in crazy boonies national park situation.  Ahhh . . . nobody loves a janky SE Asia bus ride like me — you know why?  The scenery is rad, the crew is close and safe, there is nothing to do but read and look and the scenery and talk to my family or other travelers, no internet, I keep the phone off, etc.  And then, Megan says hey happy father’s day!  I had no idea.  Again I think of Will, my original Vietnam exploration partner, and famous forgetter of his b-day.  Love it (and him) on so many levels!

Nobody here celebrates it, father’s day that is, who cares.  Every day is father’s day for me, I am the luckiest cat around with my crew and my health.  Blessed.

It is raining and foggy all the way 4+ hour trip to Halong Bay.  We are informed we are with the wrong group.  Stress.  Is this a jamming or a scamming!  I get comfortable enough w/ the ‘honest mistake’ thing.  I knew we were going to be cattle, it’s ok, I also know there is no better and simpler and cost effective way to put in the magic of Halong Bay.

At the pier it is raining and muddy and packed w/ cattle tourons just like us (but sometimes you gotta be cattle) with 1000 yard stares.  We hook up w/ our “right” crew and boat and guide and take a shuttle boat to our “cruise boat”.  We are on a ‘value’ program here, not VIP but not pure backpacker/cheapo.  We will all be in one room and our fam of four is a little over $180 for 2 days meals, overnight on boat, all cave/bay/beach/kayak/etc. fees paid.  It’s a pretty sick deal, actually, assuming we don’t stay on a prison boat and eat fish paste for 2 days.

It’s rad.  Fine, color me touron.  The boat is fine, the food is above average by far, the family room is a double bed and a single (yeah, that will be me sleeping w/ my kicking kids in a daddy sando).  We explore a rad cave, we sea kayak, we swim and do beach time.  And then, the truly sublime, a sunset that is truly insane.  Top three in my life.  The family is stoked, I am stoked.  Dinner with our group is great.  Squid fishing is a hoot.  The value on the trip is amazing.  Someday maybe we’ll get back in to this place with some style and enjoy w/out a zillion other touron boats and what not.  But this place is so amazing it actually overshadows the hordes of overnight boats.

I’m hopeful the crew sleeps well tonight and this trip “adds” energy vs. subtract.  We are due back in Hanoi at 18:00 tomorrow and then hit an overnight train at 20:00 to Dong Hoi for Phong Na-Ke Bang national park area farmstay transfer.  Bikes, rivers, parks, mountains, caves, etc. on tap when not enjoying being in the boonies at a farmstead.  Exhale.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel wrt the trip and more to the point the constant planning and what is next and making the sure we are safe but traveling and exploring.  We started the day on a relative low, we end on a relative high.  That is more father’s day than I could ever ask.  Thank you.