Ahhh… this is the life. A slow cruise, weaving through the mists of humidity among the limestone cliffs and green waters of Halong Bay, was just the ticket after the traffic insanity on mainland Vietnam. I’ve written before about the value of taking a vacation from your vacation and I was ready to take my own advice again in Vietnam after a whirlwind trip around the country. Three days sailing around Halong Bay on an upgraded junk ship sounded just about my speed.
I had always been skeptical of cruises, since I thought of them as the anti-thesis of my preferred method of independent travel. Being trapped on a boat with the same people on a rigid schedule of activities had never appealed to me. However, as I looked over the brochures showing me the fanned sails of the junk ships dotting the coves of Halong Bay and the lack of schedule aside from meals, I was convinced to give it a go.
And thank goodness, because had I not gone, I would have missed out on great moments like the following:
- Walking the plank! The crew would bring out a plank to the upper deck to jump out to swim since there was no diving board pre-installed.
- Sea kayaking! I kayaked through a cave to a hidden cove (lake?) where a zillion monkeys were jumping all over the place. (Other people were very excited to see them, but if you follow this blog, you know that I am not a fan of monkeys).
- Holding a jellyfish in my hand! I didn’t even know this was possible until my guide slapped a jellyfish (tentacles down!) into my open palm with no warning. It felt like a heart beating in my hand. Super cool. (And don’t worry, I re-submerged the jellyfish in the water after about 2 seconds.)
- An international amateur foosball tournament?! On an overnight stay on Cat Ba island, my cruise boat peers and myself were pleasantly surprised to discover a foosball table in the beach bar. Team Eastern Canada beat Team Western Canada in the semi-finals, only to lose disgracefully to Team France in the championship.
I would have also missed the less great moments, such as:
- Boats dumping their garbage into the ocean.
- Said garbage floating by while you are swimming. Super yuck.
I may not be sold on cruises, but Halong Bay made me more open to them as a travel option for the future.
Sometimes you just gotta be on a boat do a place justice.