CraSh Williams' Blog

Posts Tagged ‘halong bay’

Friggin in the Rigging

Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on April 27, 2011

Following on from my whinge fest – being sat in a harbour for hours and hours, we finally made it aboard the tourist boat – Minh Quang. If truth be told the girls have done well, very well. Our Junk is a 2 berth floating palace which in contrast to the other Junks – carrying  between 16 and 32 passengers plus crew – we’re indeed travelling in style (well done TCT and SSW!) –

Life aboard see’s shades of our recent  Cargo Ship voyage – travelling slowly, barely cause a bow wave, minimal people, the freedom to do as we please and a chance to get to know the crew – though speaking very limited Vietnamese, we’re all on nodding terms!

We asked Duc, our guide about the larger Junks; he told us that they cost about $400US per day, per person – this to us is an astronomical amount, paying so much for so little. Granted, the Junks are large though with that many people, they also look very cramped. The food is supposed to be excellent but given the choice, I’d rather be aboard Minh Quang – of which we paid $125US per person for the whole trip – as previously said, the food is excellent  and we’re not beholden to 30 odd other passengers!

Having been away for the last several months, some of which was aboard the aforementioned ship, I finally got to swim in the sea – it was glorious! As soon as we set sail from Cat Ba, Jamie and I had changed into our swimming costumes and demanded to swim!

Neither of us being put off by the Japanese whaling fleet tailing us (we were safe in the fact that Greenpeace were just behind them) Us two land whales gracefully entered the water – I thought with the grace of Tom Daly though apparently not, it was more akin to a couple of breeze blocks being tossed off a bridge!

Later that evening we anchored up; the crew cooking a fantastic meal of fried fish, baked fish, tofu and several other tasty morsels, we ate well, drank warm white wine before retiring to bed, nicely tired and very happy.

I awoke a little before 6am this morning so took the opportunity to go above deck to snap some phots – it’s really beautiful here, there are several fishermen’s huts all of which are floating around us and numerous limestone cliffs rising from the water. One of the fishermen has some Vietnamese music playing in the background, in a strange way it enhances my morning rather than detracting from the peacefulness of this area.

Again, I’ve started a day with a dip in the ‘oggin – I really could start each day like this, diving off the boat into the emerald green waters. It’s our final morning aboard the Minh Quang, we’re about to have breakfast then we’ll set sail for Halong Way to join our minibus back to Hanoi City.

Tonight we leave Hanoi; we join an overnight train to the Vietnamese city of Hue…

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That’s Life!

Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on April 27, 2011

Whilst growing up one of the things I remember about TV is a consumer/magazine type programme called ‘That’s Life’ which was fronted by Esther Rantzen and an assorted crew of second rate TV journalists / TV personalities. If I remember correctly it used to be on during a Sunday evening and would the type of programme where one minute they’re talking about children being savaged by pit bull terriers to carrots shaped like a penis.

During the late 70’s early 80’s there was a huge hotel boom in Southern Spain – high rise blocks of hotels being built left right and centre. These building works prompted many viewers to write in; complaining that there beautifully advertised hotel, gracing the beach was in actual fact surrounded by three building sites, a coach park and a noisy disco.

Our three star hotel, downtown Cat Ba had all of the above bar the disco!

Shelley awoke early, just before 6am to comment that it was very peaceful and for once had a pleasant night’s sleep. It was at this point that there was huge noise, sounding and feeling  at least 8.4 on the Richter scale – I had visions of tsunami waves descending upon us from the China Seas – with our long awaited journey aboard our Junk passing by our 6th floor window!

Looking out the window, not more than 15 feet from our bedroom window were 5 or 6 builders with pneumatic drills, demolishing the hotel next door. At 6am – it was actually funny rather than annoying, our neighbour Jamie actually thought it was the air conditioning unit!

Now I just need the address for Esther Rantzen so I can send through my letter, photographs and video footage. Oh, and a couple of carrots.

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Landlocked in Cat-Ba, Vietnam!

Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on April 25, 2011

Leaving Hanoi early, we set off for Halong Bay to begin our Junk experience – 3 days and 2 nights sailing the Asian seas, eating lovely fresh seafood and all round general relaxing. The mini-bus to Halong Bay took a good four hours though we’d gotten here a lot sooner if we’d bypassed the ‘Tourist-Warehouse’ where every other tourist bus seems to stop – the place was full of expensive tat, bored staff and even more bored ladies sewing pictures of tigers and the such, I did stick around watching this in the hope that someone, through boredom actually stuck a needle in their eye. Alas this wasn’t to happen so we resumed our journey to Halong Bay.

Halong Bay or certainly the port area is a stinking hole of a place – full of tourists, the majority of whom seem to be the affected ‘Gap-Year’ trustifarians, all of whom are uber cool wearing the latest in gaudy fashion – baggy bright multi-coloured trousers, white vests advertising some great noodle bar – something along the lines of ‘…D’og Lick Ball & Fook U Noodle Plate…’ and their obligatory (red, green, yellow, multi-coloured – choose) Wayfarer Ray Bans.

Plus, some Germans and a few Scandinavians.

Having left the booking to the girls, Lisa ‘Thomas Cook’ Tomlin and Shelley ‘Saga’ Williams to book the grand voyage, we fully expected to arrive, get aboard the Junk and sail off into the sunset. Only this time, our heroes, from within the Procurement World – one a former travel specialist within Local Government had actually secured us a concrete seat on the port itself which is where we sat looking at the boats for several hours.

Now a full twenty four hours later, we’re sat in the seaside town of Cat-Ba – granted, the journey yesterday aboard a Junk – with plenty of other plebs, was certainly a great start – seeing some stunning sites, grottos and floating villages, however a full twenty-four hours later we’re still no closer to joining our boat. Our guide, a chap called Duc (prefers to be known as D) was at first quite humourus now he’s a complete pain in the arse – apparently we will be joining our boat at 4pm today (I don’t believe this) apparently for two nights though I’m bot holding my breath.

mmm, I will have some photo’s to upload at some point however at this stage it’s all going a bit pear-shaped and I’m starting to have a real sense of humour failure. For three days we’re supposed to be sailing the China Seas, so far I’ve done jack.

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