The champagne corks were popping as the local entry arrived in Derry in first place on the penultimate leg of the Clipper Round the World race. Local skipper Sean McCarter was in great spirits and pleased to be on dry land after a challenging race. Continue reading They came up the Foyle to some bubbles
Almost two years ago I blogged on the Clipper Round the World race when it visited my home town of Derry. And here we are again in the sunshine ready to welcome the crews back to the North West.
Due to weather conditions the first crews won’t arrive in the city until early on Monday morning. Continue reading A LegenDerry festival for Northern Ireland
It was the final day of the Halong Bay trip and I had enjoyed it. Vietnam has some amazing scenery. The food has been good, the room nice, the staff helpful and all in all worth the money even if it was expensive in Vietnamese terms.
This morning we would go to the magical cave and have a look around it. It was pretty nice apart from the woman in denial who thought that we were at Disney and this was all man made. Some people. Anyway it was a great way to spend the morning. Then we went back to the main boat with a little crash of our small boat to get us there. Had an early lunch at 11am and then were transported back to the port.
I got back and moved in to room 503. Tonight I planned to relax. But of course this was never going to happen. Instead I go on the search for food and find the corner street bars are too enticing with their cheap but refreshing beers.
I have lots of plans for the rest of my time in Vietnam so I decide not to stay out too late and tale the confusing walk back to my hotel.
The first night of sleep on the boat has been good and I’m looking forward to breakfast in the beauty of Halong Bay. The shower is pretty amazing too. A nice hot shower in a proper shower cubicle with slate floor on a junk. I am liking this.
We have to change to a day boat and go off for a few activities. We don’t even get time to say goodbye to the people who are only on the 2 day trip. I get on the day boat and the captain offers me a small cup of hot liquid that looks like green. tea. I take a sip. It isn’t green tea. I am still not sure what it is so I abandon the cup when I get the chance as the other board the boat.
We go off to a beach with a great lookout point up about 400 steps. Sadly the lookout isn’t as good for us as it’s still a bit misty. Then we head off to another area for some kayaking. It’s an odd number so I get my own kayak. We are led by a French couple we picked up from another boat on the understanding that they have done this. It turns out they haven’t, but the route isn’t tough. we go through some caves and get some amazing sights. We go through the night and day caves. In the rainforest above there are monkeys jumping between trees. I am too blindy to see them, but I can hear them.
We arrive back at out day boat and enjoy a lovely lunch. Our guide for the day looks like a Vietnamese Elvis. We relax on the top deck on the deck chairs and look at all of the boats and rock formations in the mist. Our last stop of the day is at another lookout point. Elvis tells us that it’s 121 steps. It is more.
I’ve been getting to know the people who have stayed both nights. A couple from England Niall and Jo, and 2 friends from Australia Kirsten and Roweena. When we finally return to our main AClass boat we find lots of new people on-board, they are loud and not very friendly so we decide to grab a table for 5 and keep ourselves to ourselves.
Later we head to the upper deck and relax at a table listening to music and drinking some cheaper drink that Niall and Jo have smuggled on-board.
Finally we all decide to get some sleep ready for the final day.
Up early for the first day of my trip to the UNESCO site Halong Bay. I was sure that they said that my bus would pick me up at 0830, but the girl at my door insists that it was between 0800 and 0830. No matter they have more pickups to do so they will collect me in 10 minutes. I am pretty much packed anyway.
I leave my rucksack in reception any only take the essential things I will need for the next few days. I just have time to grab some cash from the ATM across the street too so I do that.
The bus makes it way out of the city and we are given a small commentary on what to expect. The journey to the port will take just over 3 hours. At the halfway point we stop at the strangest place. It’s a big complex that makes stone statues and garden ornaments as well as a multitude of other things I am never going to buy. The prices have been fixed to meet the deep pockets of stupid people who have too much to spend or waste.
Finally just after noon we arrive at the port. A few minutes later and we meet up with the rest of the people who will be on our boat. 16 in total. I’ve paid $199 for my trip but that did include an extra $40 supplement as I wanted my own room.
We get to the boat shortly after. It looks a bit tired, but when I get on-board I notice that it’s a lot nicer in the interior. We are given our room keys and told to meet back for lunch shortly afterwards.
I am in room 107 which is on the lower deck near the engine, but it’s surprsingly quiet in here. The room is very impressive. A nice comfy double bed with fridge, air-con and a proper bathroom with shower.
After lunch we take a trip on the small boat again to the floating village. Here we get to go in a wooden boat around the area. This trip lasts 15 minutes instead of the intended hour. We are not happy so we ask for more time. The lady doesn’t look happy, but we all get back on and go for another 40 minutes through some caves.
Later we have our sunset welcome party. It’s a bit misty in the bay. We try to enjoy some local red wine which tastes more like Ribena than wine. Later at dinner I talk with some Australians who are travelling across Vietnam.
Out on the deck we relax and chat. I’ve enjoyed my first day in Halong bay. To end the day there’s some squid fishing. A few passengers catch a couple. I can’t even be bothered to try. I am content to sit and watch and drink my beer.