"Today was another exciting day in Vietnam! We started off with a boat tour of Ha Long Bay. Upon arrival at the dock, we made our way down the slippery, steep steps that lead straight down into the water. It has been muggy and rainy due to winter, so they were extra slippery, but the crew was kind enough to help us into the boat.
During our cruise we were able to go up to the second level of the boat which was open with lounge chairs to sit on. From here, though, it is hard to describe the beauty and peacefulness of Ha Long Bay! Our boat went past some of the 1,969 islands that make up one of the seven wonders of the new world. Formed from limestone and covered in vines and other green foliage, these islands are uninhabited except by birds and small monkeys. Our pictures and words will not do it justice!
From our luxury cruiser, "The Junk 27", we transferred into smaller paddle boats that brought us through cave-like tunnels in the rock formations. The fog added a mystic aspect to the experience along with the singing of our guide.
Afterwards we got back onto The Junk 27 and headed to a floating fish farm. The floating fish farm was created out of rickety, old wooden boards that had been patched many times and looked as if they wouldn't be able to hold our weight, but we didn't fall through! The fish they raised consisted of horse shoe crabs, conga fish, shrimp, crab, squid, and various other seafood.
From there we headed out toward the Pacific Ocean to view the "Kissing Chicken" rock formation. It looked like a fish on one side and kissing chickens on the other. There were many other tourist boats in the area attempting to view the formation and, in trying to view the formation at the same time, we bumped into each other, startling all of us!
Afterwards we went down to the main floor to eat lunch, which consisted of the freshest seafood you will ever get! This tour was definitely the highlight of our day and will be hard to beat.
After leaving the bay, we went to Viet Pearl where we were educated on how pearl farms work as well as how to tell the difference between real and fake pearls (if you were curious, fake pearls will be damaged and burned easily while the damage to real pearls can be easily rubbed away by your finger).
After our one day in Ha Long, we began our bus ride back to Hanoi making only one more farm visit along the way. The vegetable farm was right off the side of the road and grew various vegetables and herbs, including: cilantro, lemongrass, coliander, lettuce, and mint. David even got to attempt watering the fields with a two-watering can system (which he wasn't very successful at).
The rest of the day was a peaceful bus ride through the Vietnam countryside. It was a unique experience that we got to visit a world-wide attraction but also got to view the parts of the Vietnam that are not usually overwhelmed with tourists. We're looking forward to immersing ourselves further into the unique culture of Vietnam tomorrow!"