Sailing in Halong Bay on the Ginger
What an extraordinary experience this was! A day and a half of utter luxury with beauty all around. How can you beat that? This trip lasted 24 hours and it was pretty incredible how much we packed into those hours! 😀
We tendered out to our boat, where we were ushered into the dining room for a champagne toast and a look at what we would be doing for the next 24 hours! It felt pretty exciting to be pampered in this beautiful boat after our days out in the rugged mountains of Vietnam!
Then it was off to our rooms to get settled before we were back in the dining room for a multi course lunch! The rooms are huge, for a boat . . A king size bed, lovely bathroom, and an additional room with wardrobes, a couch, and a desk. Very elegant! And – a balcony with chairs so you could sit outside and watch the boats go by . .
Next activity was biking off to view a very local village We took the tender off the Ginger, fit our bikes, and headed off up a very steep hill! Now these bikes were pretty basic – one gear only. And they were heavy. You had to stand and pump hard to make it up that hill . . Then, the rest of the ride was mostly flat and easy biking. Some folks took an electric car . . Not us, mind you! 😀
We spent some time viewing the huge garden which feeds these people, walked around a bit, and ended up at one house where we tasted their local brew . . . Rice wine. Not bad. Not really good either . . . 😳
Back on the Ginger. Time to shower and change for the cooking lesson and dinner. The chefs here on this boat looked to be about 24 years old or so. They were local kids who were perfecting their skills in the kitchen. We watched them put together a salad plate and some of us opted to try making our own salads. (John and Laurie). We accompanied this activity with some real wine! That was a novel experience for this trip . 😜 Dinner was very fancy . . Five courses with choices all around . . Tasty and fun!
The dining room was on the top floor with windows all around so it was really fun to watch all the different boats drive by Houseboats. Fishing boats. Other cruise boats. And the magnificence of the Bay itself! There are 1600 limestone islands in this bay, all covered with tropical rainforests! It was named Ha Long Bay because the legend tells of dragons literally dropped from the sky forming these islands. This is a UNESCO Work Heritage site because of its natural beauty. Many movies have been made in this location.
We were up early the next morning to watch the sun rise – first time they had seen the sun in two weeks! How lucky were we. Now – it was only shining for a few minutes . But we did see it! 😀 We had coffee and pastries while we watched the beginning of the Patriots Championship game against Kansas City. ( this was a Dave activity – on his cellphone. 😀). Then it was off to kayak in the bay . Double kayaks – not overly comfortable – not awful. It was really fun to be out in that beautiful environment right on the water . Getting out of my kayak and back on the boat was not the easiest . .with arms that don’t work so well and the movement of the water . . I was good example of how not to disembark from a kayak. . . 😳
Time to shower and pack up the bags . . Off to the dining room for one last gourmet meal .. and – the end of the Patriots game . . . We were keeping up to date on all the plays until we lost the internet – just as the game went into overtime . . Oh No! However, in a few minutes time, there was an Instagram message floating across my phone. From Sam Webster – “Super bowlin again!” Yeah! Once we got back on land, we were able to read about the final drive and see the big plays! Very exciting!
Final thoughts about this trip . . .
I have always wanted to explore SE Asia. So – I ran this trip idea by John and Laurie, Martha and Doug. They were all in! And so we worked with the folks from Trails of Indochina to design a trip that would work for the six of us! It was wonderful! No bus rides – only the comfort of a van with an entire row for each couple. Even internet in the Vietnam van . . 😀. We explored two cities – Bangkok and Hanoi! The cities were busy and loud and lots of fun! Full of temples and important Buddha’s. We also explored the mountainous regions of Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam! So cool to meet the indigenous people who live their entire lives up on those mountains! Their lives are pretty much subsistence level – making do with what they can raise themselves, barter for, or create and hope to sell. The children have to make up their own fun . . No such thing as a screen to keep them company. They are, for the most part – happy people! Some of them have aspirations to get an education and make for a more prosperous life ( as in our wonderful guides) but even these folks continue to live on a pretty meager salary . . And they might just be most comfortable back in their villages. Laing lives near the city in Laos – but chooses to go back to his small village during the summer months when there are no tourists. Here, he connects with his family and lives off the land . . . Happiness for these folks does not come from having stuff . . .
I have to say, we were happy to get home to Smithfield, Maine – our comfortable house and our regular diet (although I really loved the food over there which was always healthy and simply prepared). We didn’t buy all that much on this trip . . What do we really need? We have more than enough . . 😳. A trip like this surely helps you put your own life in perspective and be thankful for all that you have . . . and all the opportunities available to you and your family . . .
And with that – I’ll close out this blog . . Until our next adventure . . .