(Women Travel Blog) What a great way to balance a trip to the mountains and trekking in Sapa – cruising in a Chinese Junk in Ha Long in North Vietnam
What a great way to balance a trip to the mountains and trekking in Sapa – cruising in a Chinese Junk in Ha Long in North Vietnam. Venus Adventures for Women know how to look after us girls – we are sitting on the top deck of The Pearl Dragon as the sun goes down over the limestone islands of Ha Long Bay, sipping cocktails and waiting for our 9 course dinner. What more could a girl want?
Halong Bay has been recognized as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO and is definitely one of the great wonders of the world. Venus Adventures have used local companies Indochina Junk and Handspan Travel for our travel to Sapa and Halong Bay because of their commitment to sustainability and working with local communities.
I sat on the top deck on a sun lounger as the darkness came, as we sailed past the huge limestone rocks which are the islands of this bay, just the purr of our motor, the occasional put-put of the small fishing boats passing – it was bliss.
That was before the meals! Lunch and dinner were a parade of up to 9 courses of mostly seafood delivered to our linen covered tables. It was astonishing and the tasty delights just seemed to keep on coming. Some were more challenging than others – such as the whole crab. At each meal our places were set with a different serviette fold, and the waiters placed them on our laps and served us each individually. If there was something you could not eat, another option was promptly provided.
For three days and two nights we cruised the bay, stopping to swim and kayak twice, and once we were treated to a visit to a fishing village which Indochina Junk have a relationship with. We were transferred to bamboo boats and rowed to the village where we were met by the Mayor and served tea and rice wine (serious homemade rice wine!!). We visited the school, heard a little of their life, and watched the kids play soccer on a raft without losing the ball overboard. They learn to swim as toddlers, so they are at home in and on the water.
The last night we were told to prepare to go off the boat for dinner in a cave. We climbed up the steps and into a glorious and large cave lit by candles and lights with our table set in silver service once again. Each BBQ course began with a presentation of food art done by the chef – a dragon, an eagle, a flower and finally a junk. It was a magical evening of food and song – the crew sang for us and being kiwis, we responded with Pokarekare ana. We could not get any of the others to sing, though occasionally got some amazing snippets of opera from one of the Italians on board.
We cruised slowly back to Ha Long City and then by bus back to Hanoi where we overnighted back at the Hanoi Boutique Hotel – before heading to Hue. It was like coming home, the old quarter now known, we had no trouble launching back out into the streets to our choice for dinner – I had a passion for a big plate of Fanny’s Ice-cream which I managed at The Tamarind in Ma May Street.