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Motormouth From Ipoh

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Halong Bay, Vietnam - Of Caves, Grottoes, & ALMOST Frostbitten

I know ... I know. It's been nearly a month since I blogged about my Hanoi trip. Yup, I'm easily distracted, plus the repeated visits to Langkawi had me reeling from all the travelling. The icing on the cake? Food poisoning right after the 2nd trip to Langkawi, no thanks to either the Nasi Kandar meal in Penang, or the dinner of mild-looking Economy Rice in Ipoh. Obviously, the booze and the chocs can't be the culprits, can they?!!
A case of over-binging, I supposed. But on the road to recovery now ..... Hence I'll write a short post on Halong Bay .(Erm, short in my dictionary may mean excessive rambling in others, so do take it with a pinch of salt! Hehehe) So, here goes ....

View from the top deck of our boat
After the satisfactory lunch (dismal from a discerning foodie's standards, but me being a Motormouth aka garbage bin, I walloped every single strands of fibre and every piece of flesh from the nameless fish, with MUCH gusto!) on the boat, we were transported to some caves, an obvious tourist spot, with many other junk boats docking.

Every hill, every grotto looks like what YOU imagine them to be. Much like clouds.


Dong Thien Cung - Reminded us of Ipoh's caves aka the legendary Sam Poh Tong, Kek Lok Tong etc. But with added glamour in the form of colourful spotlights!

Being a tourist attraction for the masses, aside from the need to climb some flight of stairs, one does not need to rock-climb, abseil, nor crawl underneath some treacherous structures. Though some adventures would be fine, given the cold weather, almost to the point of numbing our senses. No joke, it was midday and some Westerners on the same boat were already shivering and hiding in the cabin, whilst we were having a whale of a time on the top deck.

Surreal right? Especially if you listen to the tour guide's explanation and descriptions of the structures in the cave!! ROTFL, more like it! :)


Just look at the number of boats docked at the port, and you'll realise the cave is one of the must-see when one visits Halong Bay. Entrance fee was covered by our package (USD33/pax)
We visited two caves on the site, Dong Thien Cung and Hang Dau Go. The latter required no guide, as the cave was rather small and dark, with not much attractions. But with more perilous trekking, though not to the point of being dangerous.

In and around our 'home' for the night


Our room for two. Of course, you're not seeing double (triple?), as we were lucky enough to be granted a bigger room on the second level, instead of the lower level.
The rooms are twin-sharing basis, all rooms at the lower level of the boat, but a bigger triple room on the second level, also known as the common level where we had our meals. The beds were clean, with comforters, and attached bathrooms. Note that electricity is only available from late evening onwards, as then only they'll start the generator. Meaning to say, you can only bath in hot shower, as well as charge your phone/camera from late evening until nighttime. But, once everyone's back into their rooms, at about midnight, they'll shut down the generator, and it's PITCH BLACK all the way til morning. Do take note, in case you're intending to charge your electronics overnight.
#Hint : Avoid rooms near to the generator on the lower level of the boat, as common sense would tell you it's akin to sleeping next to a buzzsaw. #

The fishing village (?) where we made a pit stop again.


LARGE mantis prawns. But at RM50 per kg UNcooked, we thought twice. :)
Here's where you can purchase FRESH seafood bred on site, from the average fishes/prawns/squids to some extraordinaire marine animals. You can buy the fresh supplies here, bring them back to your boat, and ask them to cook for you.

In for the kill. No, not the sharks ....
The other boats will dock here for the night as well. The water's calm, no ripples nor waves to throw you off a good night's sleep!
Back on the boat while waiting for our dinner to be served, we sat back and relaxed, soaking in the breeze(and the non-existing sunlight!), lying on the reclining chairs to pass time. Yup, the weather was freezing cold, but the windy weather was comforting, an escape from the scorching hot M'sian weather.

Dinner on the boat - Seems like the fries are HOT in Vietnam, eh? Must be the French's influence!

Pitch black on the outside. And the chilly breeze had us shivering in our ... erm, pants?!


LOL. I wonder what would the foreigners think had they climbed up to the top deck!! =P
At night, there wasn't much to do, except playing cards, chatting in the cabin, or reading a book. But the some of the cabin crew were smoking (!!) in the common room, hence we had to avoid the smoky, stagnant air, and braced ourselves (yeah, 'GREAT' idea ....) against the numbing temperature. We cuddled ourselves up, trying helplessly to warm our frail bodies, hiding behind whatever structures that were available up there. Tough luck.
But it was indeed, a humourous yet memorable experience; Us squatting behind chairs, poles, and water tanks, with intermittent shrieks and chattering teeth everytime the wind blew. LOL.

Good night ... and slept tight, rocked by the gentle waves.
Next morning's itinerary? Kayak-king at 6.30am (7.30am Malaysian time), breakfast on boat, and lunch on land. Then back to Hanoi for the last night in Vietnam .......
(To be continued .....)

40 comments:

KCA said...

yeah.. finally ur Hanoi post is here again.. hehe..

wa.. edi one month liao?? hmmm... time flies reli FAST hor...

it was extremely cold during the night time... the cold wind reli freezed us all to death... anyway, it was a great experience for all of us,i suppose.. :)

hehe.. so many 'GhOsTzz' on the boat ar?? **scare, scare** lo..
=P

SuwEi said...

Finally hanoi's back..haha!seems that there're so many familiar faces in ur blog..haha!do i know them...:P

J2Kfm said...

KCA : hahaha ... dunno y suddenly so many apparitions appeared on the deck leh hor? :)

suwei : erm, doubtful lah. they're illegal immigrants. LOL.

FoOd PaRaDiSe said...

waiting to see more of your Hanoi trip posts.......

mboy said...

Can anyone guess who's the lady who had a condom-like head gear in the 2nd last pic? =)...She's gonna KILL u MotorMouth!

Little Inbox said...

You experienced the life back to natural. :)

SimpleGirl said...

wow, wow, wow, Halong Bay really a beautiful place...I must add this to the 1000 places to see before I die....nice photos..thanks for sharing!

iamthewitch said...

The cave looked amazing! And I can't believe it could be that cold in a SEA country. :) Perhaps I should pay it a visit some time. By the way, did you actually get to CHOOSE your room?

J2Kfm said...

Food Paradise : wah so fast waiting. coming soon ... I hope. :)

mboy : nvm lah .. she wont notice anyway. hehe ..

Little Inbox : yeah, the simple life. without worry, without the mundane working life.

SimpleGirl : yeah, should go at least once. more pics on the caves, hills, grottoes and whatnots.

iamthewitch : nolah. hahaha ... but of course, say you go with a large group of frens, you may 'book' the whole boat to yourself. hence the unlucky ones stay near the generator. hahaha ...

Selba said...

I like Halong Bay... :)

Whoa... you slept on the boat? that so cool!

550ml jar of faith said...

Ooh lovely!!! I'm definitely feeling the Halong halo effect... also happening over at Life For Beginners. Those french fries are looking quite fetching, despite the context!

Julian Si said...

" I wonder what would the foreigners think had they climbed up to the top deck!! " ... that photo made you guys look like hantu's ... scarrrrrrrey!

:-)

And I love that MANTIS PRAWN shot, well done!

Bangsar-bAbE said...

People keep telling me how beautiful Halong Bay is, now I know!

*gulp* Why so expensive one the prawns?? @_@

ck lam said...

Nice getting to know Halong Bay from a blogger point of view...very interesting.

Hulk said...

Wow!! U are really good with camera & eye for beauties. Either that or the camera with high pixelation helps. All the pixs are pieces of arts.

BTW, what digital camera are u using? How much is that?

kampungboycitygal said...

it seems like halong bay is a boring place, esp for ipoh-an like us that scream : enof of caves already! haha

J2Kfm said...

Selba : yeah, on the boat. cool in many ways. haha ... cold's more like it. we didnt even on the fan nor open the windows.

550ml jar of faith : strange enough, french fries were served more than once in Vietnam.

Julian Si : hahah .. hantu eh? plus the blurry effect. =P

Bangsar-Babe : yeah, tourists ma. but for the Westerners who may have yet to try those prawns, they're worthy of a try gua.

ck lam : seconded!

Hulk : I'm using Panasonic LX3 for the Hanoi trip. food pics some still taken by my 5610. LX3 is about RM1500-1600 now.

kampungboycitygal : ironically, i enjoyed Halong Bay the most, compared to Hanoi n SAPA. maybe the cool weather, and being able to sleep on boat made things fun!

soo sean said...

I am considering Vietnam as my next next destination. But my brother who had just visited Vietnam told me that he do not like Halong Bay. What do you think?

backStreetGluttons said...

This kind of 1/4 camping outdoors escape is very much better than those convenience tours with convenience food and convenience beds and convenience guides ( plus convenience cash out )!
That was a good holiday !

Try next time for the 3/4 camping out types + beers in cartons , & no books allowe-ded...would be a real adventure

mimid3vils said...

Sleep in a boat~~*goyang*goyang*

foodbin said...

nice post-any more?

worldwindows said...

Nice reading. Like the easy pace.

J2Kfm said...

soo sean : next NEXT destination? hehe... so where's the next one?
Halong Bay's a world heritage site. though may be just cliff, rocks and caves all around, but it's indeed a diff experience, sleeping on boat, and living somewhat like the people on boat should.

BSG : eh, this one far from camping lah .. :) quite relaxing even. and didnt burn a hole in pocket, as for USD33, we get a nite stay, with meals provided, tour guide fees (though he's next to invisible most of the time!),as well as kayaking and entrance to the cave.
will try the other 3/4 in the future. hehe ...

mimid3vils : nope. it was suspiciously stable. not even single rocking while sleeping.

foodbin : yeah! one or two more posts, then i'm done!

worldwindows : something diff from the life here.

YilingL said...

the room looks quite comfy... ok, must plan a trip to hanoi.... :p

Min said...

Hey, finally you continue with your Hanoi post, hehe. I like Halong Bay also, especially the weather and it was fun to overnight on the boat also...And, I like the 'ghost' photo!

Leonard Loh said...

OOOOOH I missed Hanoi, and Vietnam very much!

Too bad I haven't started blogging back then. Went to a few very nice places in Vietnam.

I see you took the overnight package eh? I took only the 1-day trip thing. Just visited the cave, cliffs, dive into the sea lol. But come to think of it, the road trip was too time-consuming for a day-trip.

I love vietnam's rich culture. Just the traffic law (the lack of) a little annoying after awhile.

And oh... you been to Bobby Chinn's restaurant yet? Red Chilies or something like that...

sakaigirl said...

Whoa, how you manage to book this on the boat trip to hanoi? It looks really interesting and your photos are breathtaking!

J2Kfm said...

YilingL : yeah, snuggling up underneath the comforter, and sleeping in the dark ... very cooling, very calming.

Min : nice hor?!! sadly one of us was missing from the pic. haha ...

Leonard Loh : we didnt go to Bobby Chinn's lah. heard that it was closed during that period. but not sure where's the place anyway. btw, no diving into the sea for us, it was freezing that time.

sakaigirl : we booked the tour from Sinh Cafe tours, as soon as we arrived in Hanoi.

jasmine said...

i also enjoyed halong bay more than hanoi itself... but we didn't get to spend the night, only a day trip and still managed to go to the cave. nothing much though :P

and dining at bobby chinn's is an experience but food didn't wow me as much as i hoped.

Shell (貝殼) said...

Overnite at the boat ~~ cool!! ..It looks really interesting.

email2me said...

The cave feels very much like SAM POH TONG XD

JC @ Jessey said...

I will be going to Hanoi on July for 6 days 5 night trip.. But Halong Bay will be just for 1 day trip, hope I can enjoy as much as in Hanoi! =)

J2Kfm said...

jasmine : yeah. i wish i've gone to the restaurant also,.if not for the food also maybe for the experience or a drink.

Shell : yeah, something different. comfy enough, thankfully.

email2me : hahah ... sam poh tong dun have that much lighting though.

JC : i'm sure you'll enjoy as much as i do. but in July should be clearer skies, but may be slightly hotter.

cariso said...

Ur blog made the Hanoi trip sounds look sooooo interesting leh!

Leonard Loh said...

Yeah dining at Bobby Chinn's is a great experience, its a great interior. I think it's located somewhere near to the Hoan Kiam Lake.

The food, certain dishes were great, certain ones weren't.

Leonard Loh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J2Kfm said...

cariso : my blog? nah ... the place itself deserves some accolades. being a UNESCO world heritage site and all.

leonard Loh : if i ever go Hanoi again, probably i'll insert that into my itinerary. but given the incessant honking in the streets, it may be a while before i decide to go again ... :)

Leonard Loh said...

Oh yeah! Now you reminded about about the honks... it's sooo nerves-bothering!

The way they drive OMG.. my vietnamese friend once said "Vietnam is the only place on earth that traffic law doesn't mean a damn thing"... Erm I may wanna dispute the word "only", but it's well said nonetheless!

Anonymous said...

Hi..thanks for all the interesting stories,details and pics.Im going to Hong Kong next month and Vietnam the month after.Your blog really helps alot.Thank you.But just wondering is your Vietnam stories still pending as i see the word 'continue'.If yes,i hope to read the happy ending of the story.Thanks again.

J2Kfm said...

Leonard Loh : yeah, i still rmbr the 1st few days, we were so annoyed by the noise! then we sort of got used to them.

Anonymous : hey, thanks for visiting. yup, there are still 2 posts or more to go. sorry, as work has been catchin up on me lately. but will try to finish all by this month. you lucky devil you! hahaha ... 2 destinations back to back?!