Caves are stunning creations. Rock formations are spectacular. Rock formations in the middle of bodies of water can be even more stunning. This is Halong Bay, also called the “descending dragon bay”. Halong Bay is a series of 1969 islands surrounded by over 1500 square kilometers of water. Its huge. No, its enormous! covered in islands, caves, holes, nooks and crannies everywhere. Because of its sheer size and beauty it is a very popular tourist attraction and has been commercialized quite a bit, so be advised if you do come see it, there will be lots of people to see it, whether at the low season or the high season. Regardless of the people it is still a must see when visiting Vietnam.
The night before arriving in Halong, I stayed in Ninh Binh, 180kms southwest of Halong Bay. This is a small town but has a very exciting temple and “mini Halong bay” if you will. I met some great people at my hostel and ended up doing some site seeing with them the following day. They were doing the same thing as me – motorbiking Vietnam – but in the opposite direction as me. I joined their group the following day to run around the town to see everything.
Ninh Binh was near the Tam Coc caves and temples. It has an ancient Buddist temple in the mountains and some great mountains to climb along with a wonderful boat ride tour through some rice paddies and into the mountainous regions. The views are very nice and the boat ride is a lot of fun. When we got into the boats for the ride, I saw one guy returning and the navigator of the boat was using his feet to row. At first I thought he had no arms, but he has two perfectly normal arms! Then I noticed everyone used their feet to row the boats along – why they use their feet I am not sure, but it is definitely different and very cool.
The temple surrounded by lilypads
Such a view! In true adventure style, we saw a “path” going up the mountain – and of course we had to conquer it and was rewarded with sweat and this great view!
Climbing rocks in sandals, not the best option but they work! Tomer, Grace and Zach climbing down. Ben was long gone after the bee chased him away. Poor Ben!
Look at those feet go! Speedy ol’ lady!
So peaceful! A mini version of Halong bay. Rock cliffs and water.
Its been fun guys! Now I have to head out and go to Halong bay. Ride safe and enjoy the views! Zach, Grace, Me, Ben and Tomer)
Oh and cant forget about my funny host! The host of the Lang Khanh Hostel! Such a funny lady
After leaving Ninh Binh I made the 180kms trip to Halong bay. That evening I rode around and found this great bridge full of color. I rode across it and it changed colors as well!
Im sure many have heard that dogs and cats are eaten in Vietnam – and its considered a delicacy here. I heard that it takes place but is not very common. I had not seen any signs of this activity taking place until I arrived in Halong. Apparently its much more common in North Vietnam – hence why I didn’t see any of this until now. Its a very sad and brutal process for the animals that go through it – they are tortured and beaten before they are killed for their meat – the Vietnamese believe this process makes the meat taste better. Also the dogs and cats are primarily from Thailand and shipped on trucks illegally into Vietnam. Strays, pets or farm raised animals – it doesn’t matter to the people collecting the animals. Different breeds are worth different amounts – its a crazy market – consuming dogs and cats or as we consider them – pets.
The first dog meat restaurant I saw. I rode passed it and looked inside and it was packed. Made me queasy…(Cho is dog and Meo is cat in Vietnamese. Thit means meat)
From Buddhist temples to the bay front. From noodle soup to dog meat stew. I’ve seen just about it all in one day. A tour of Halong Bay is scheduled for 8am to go see caves, rock formations, kayaking and some hiking. Sounds like its gonna be an exciting day! The dogs and cats better go hide – there may be bad people hunting them out to place on a table!
PS. Now that its nearing the end of my journey up the coast in Vietnam, I can only think of where to next?! I want to keep motorbiking around! Maybe a trip around Iran on a motorcycle? I found a lady who actually did this last year in 2014 – Lois Pryce from England! You can read her CNN article! Lois Pryce CNN article. Wow…one crazy lady!