The first night was on the boat - very nice cabins, such a shame we had to get up at 7am so we didn't get so much time to appreciate them!
As you can see the boat was run as the HaLong Party boat - so the first afternoon we were encouraged to drink lots of overpriced (relatively!) beers and warned any contraband alcohol would incur a $10 surcharge... Er no not paying twice the cost of the alcohol in order to be able to drink it!
On our sail out of HaLong city to the bay it was a bit misty - but we could still see the famous karst scenery that makes the bay a world heritage site:
We visited a look out point at the top of one of the outcrops to get a view of the surroundings and the horde of tourist boats swarming around.
After the views we headed further into the bay to visit Hang Sung Sot - another cave!
Unfortunately we lost 2 of the kayakers - after sitting drinking our happy hour beers and playing jungle speed (look it up - very good game!) it got dark. Then we started getting worried about the 2 kayakers that hadn't made it back. Worried enough to check what the crew were doing and then enough to start yelling for them... Luckily they just got lost and made it back to the boat landing - phew!
That evening went in a blur of drinking games including ring of fire and mushroom (I can explain them if you message me!) and we slept well on the boat - such a shame we couldn't sleep in, it was really comfortable and quiet in the bay.
So the second day we split from the 1 nighters heading back to the mainland and headed towards Cat Ba and our own private island for the second night.
We transferred to a smaller boat to head into the bay. It turned out to be seven girls and Anton - lucky boy!
So the option to climb off the boat was there - I decided against doing it in a bikini - however Cameo and Carmen gave it a go - jumping off the rocks into the sea (I just jumped from the top deck of the boat!)
When we got to our private island we had the option to kayak around the local area - which we took up - even kayaking through an arch in the rocks!
Then back on the beach there was sunbathing and volleyball to keep us amused until dinner and the drinking games starting again!
Carmen in mid motion
So that evening we taught the others how to play spoons - much to the amusement of the locals who couldn't quite work out what was going on, but they highly approved of rice wine shots as forfeits!
Next up was the karaoke - our guide Tan started off with the owner and then it was over to us to kill the western songs.... Tan could actually sing and so joined in to save us from too much embarrassment.
Another night's sleep in the dorm to the sound of the waves and we were up early the next day to head back to the mainland :(
After transferring back to the big boat we had a spring roll cooking demonstration that we then got to eat for lunch :)
We were lucky with the weather in HaLong bay at this time of year - we actually got to sunbathe, but it still got cold at night. The haziness of the light changed with the time of the day and sometimes reminded me of the impressionists paintings - truly beautiful - doesn't have the same effect on camera!