Day 26-27: HaLong Bay

by Kelsey Lowrey. Hello this is Kelsey! This morning we headed off to Lan Ha (or Ha Long Bay) in basically one of the fanciest buses we have all ever been on! We got to take a nice ride in our limo bus while 4 others got a luxury van (this van had massage chairs). After about a 2 hour ride, we awaited the boat in the lobby. Then we headed off in the tender boat to our actual cruise ship which would take us to HaLong Bay. We were greeted by staff once we arrived on the ship, and took our belongings to our rooms. Our rooms were very fancy with a nice little balcony, shower, decorations, and robes (which some people strutted around in during the evening). We then had lunch in the dining room which consisted of a delicious 4-course meal–if lunch is like this, what must dinner be like!? Lunch was very relaxing and the view from the window was breathtaking. Later on, some of us took the tender boat and a bus to visit the Trung Trang caves. This was definitely the most jungle we have seen so far on this trip! The caves were full of 4,000 year old formations and was nice and cool outside–that’s a big plus. We even got to see some bats inside the cave perched up on the cave ceiling. We then headed back to the ship, and in the evening some of us got to go swimming. I was planning on swimming, but it was in the open ocean and I thought we were going to go ashore to swim. I decided not to get in out of fear of sharks and jellyfish as some of us watch too much Shark Week! Then after swimming to cool off there was some nice smoothies and juice drinks that we can order on the sun deck. It was a nice relaxing time just hanging out on the ship! We had a buffet dinner which was very delicious with options like shrimp, chicken, potatoes, corn, and sushi! We then got to see some old pictures of the Friesen Family during their young days in Vietnam and watched some clips from the film Indochine –definitely some cute pics, and definitely a French film! We finished off the night by debriefing and hanging out on the sun deck. The next morning some people got up at 6 am for some Taichi but most of us just had a light breakfast at 6:30am. Then we headed out in kayaks at 7:15 am to explore some dark and bright caves. It was definitely very hot and hard to row, but it was worth the experience as everything looked like scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean!  The cave opened up to the other side of the mountain to a nice lagoon. We even got to hear some monkeys that were on the other side of the mountain, but we didn’t get to see any unfortunately. Then we headed back to the ship for brunch and packing. After leaving the ship, we took the bus back to Hanoi. This has definitely been my favorite and most relaxing time during my time here at Vietnam. It was a good boost to enjoy some time in the outdoors and also reflect with my peers on our overall experience with the laid back lifestyle of Vietnam, and also relaxing the great opportunity we have in our education as many places we have seen don’t have the same chance to receive stellar education. We are looking forward to exploring the rest of Vietnam and coming home in about 2 weeks!

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