Thousands of Islands
in Halong Bay, Vietnam on 21st March, 2012

My main motivation for visiting Northern Vietnam was to see Halong Bay. I'd first learnt of the place watching an episode of Top Gear where they fashioned motorcycles into boats and drove to a floating bar near one of the 2,000 islands that make up the bay.

Around 8am a bus came and fetched me from my hotel in Hanoi. We picked up around 15 passengers in total and drove out to Halong city. While we were waiting for our boat in the harbour I struck up a conversation with a Bavarian girl by the name of Vanessa. She and her friend were on holiday for a month traveling around South East Asia.

For about an hour the boat wasn't allowed to leave the harbour due to poor visibility. We'd had lunch on the boat and we were anxious to get a move on out to the islands. At one point we were warned that we might not get to leave and would need to stay in Halong city or drive back to Hanoi. I thought there would be a mutiny. After a further tense 40 minutes or so we set sail in the thick fog.

We reached an encirclement of islands before getting off to go Kayaking. I shared a kayak with Vanessa. It was really beautiful and fascinating paddling around looking at the islands and caves up close. I could have stayed out there all afternoon.

We returned after an hour to the boat and sat down to dinner. Afterword I fetched my MacBook Pro and sat with the girls going through the photos we took. As soon as I opened my machine a crew member came racing over to look at it. He was acting like I'd parked a Zonda on his boat as he drooled and asked questions. Normally I'm keen to show off kit but I felt uncomfortable for some reason.

We spent the rest of the evening chatting, drinking and I did a spot of fishing. I caught a jellyfish but it sort of slimed away as I was pulling it in. Looking out from my cabin window before dozing off to sleep was one of the magic moments of my holiday.

In the morning I awoke and opened the curtain to see what amazing scene awaited my eyes. There was a little lady with drinks for sale floating outside my window. Bloody sales people are everywhere here.

We spent the morning visiting a cave before cruising around for a few hours gazing out at the islands. I got to have a really good chat with Vanessa and snapped a couple nice pics of her.

Later on in the day during the bus ride back to Hanoi our attention turned to our immediate plans. The girls were heading south to Hue and I was planning on heading up north to Sapa. After a chat weighing the options and considering our timetables we agreed to meet up in Hoi An and hang out there together for a few days. Hoi An was the nicest town I'd visited in Vietnam and Vanessa was really interesting to talk to and hang out with so I don't see it as a loss not to go to Sapa.

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