Halong Bay

Islands Exploration by Kayak

Halong Bay by kayak was wonderful! The "kayaks" are actually two-person inflatible rafts that are very stable and perfect for beginners. Halong is ideal for kayaking as it is well protected from the South China Sea, remaining as calm as a lake during our three day trip.

During the morning and afternoons, breaking only for lunch on our "mothership," we were left free to explore the numerous caves, deserted beach coves and hidden lakes where no larger boats could go. Kayaking low on the water instead of on a larger boat reminded me of the difference between being on a bike versus in a van or bus -- of being in the environment rather than viewing it from an obstrcuted distance. We also felt like Halong was deserted, seeing very few tourists and no other kayakers.

Beautiful, tropical beach coves were empty and great for swimming, collecting sheels or just laying out. After a long day on the water the captain and his crew served up delicious seafood, cold beer as well as a few things from home, like french fries. We ate very well.

On the return to Hanoi we stopped on Cat Ba island for a quick walk around, then caught the high-speed ferry back to Haiphong and explored this interesting port city for a few hours before departing on the early evening train back to Hanoi (an interesting chance to ride a Vietnamese train).

We arrived tired but fascinated to be back in a large, bustling city of land lubbers.

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Although it was only a couple of years ago UNESCO declared Halong Bay a World Heritage Site, its history goes back over a thousand years. A favorite base for pirates, Halong provided numerous hidden bays and calm waters from storms.

Halong has wonderful sunsets followed by a star screen at night. The calm waters make you feel you are sleeping on land. A morning discussion about what else: Halong's incredible setting and when are we getting in the kayaks. Halong has floating "villages" and traffic that moves between them. Rowers are adept at moving their boats quickly with little effort.
Our boat crew whipped up delicious food, seemingly from nothing. Mr. Crab didn't stand a chance against hungry kayakers. Halong's serenity is due in part to it's vastness. The hundreds of bays and coves providing solitude.

Photographs by VeloAsia 1999 [More Photos]

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