Thursday, September 23, 2010

Goodbye Eileen, Hello Halong Bay

So I forgot to mention that after having Eileen brought back to life and talking to several mechanics about the status of her health, I decided it best to sell her.  The mechanics told me there was no chance Eileen would make it all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City without going through the same troubles I'd already experienced.  It was actually a sad day after hearing her crank up again and feeling the warmth (or the overheating) coming from her engine.

I put up a few advertisements in the backpacker area as well as few postings online and was surprisingly able to fetch a decent price for Eileen in only 1 day.  I sold the bike to an expat who had been living in Hanoi.  Poor guy.  I told him about the problems I'd had, but he didn't seem to mind.  Luckily, I was able to sell him the bike for a price that netted me a loss of only $35.

Unfortunately, the next day, Jake's trip ended and he had to catch a flight back to Bangkok to connect with his return flight home.  I tried hard to convince him to extend his trip, but he had just accepted a great job working with Boeing that I knew would be impossible to pass up.  We had a great trip together with both some highs and lows.  We saw some amazing scenery and had incredible experiences.  How many people can say they've purposefully been thrown off an elephant or motorcycled around 1,800 hair pin turns in the mountains of Thailand, or even better -- screamed like little women when we had a rottweiler-sized rat fall in our bed near the Laos border?  Hopefully our trip together will inspire him and his girlfriend Jade to continue traveling and see more of the world, well maybe not the part about the rat.

After Jake left, I booked a boat trip to explore the UNESCO world heritage site of Halong Bay along the northeastern coast of Vietnam.  Halong Bay -- Majestic and mysterious, inspiring and imperious: words alone cannot do justice to the natural wonder that is Halong Bay. Over 3000 incredible limestone islands rising from the jade waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and you have a vision of breathtaking beauty. Halong Bay is pure art, a priceless collection of unfinished sculptures wrought by the hand of nature.

Halong Bay is the stuff of myths and naturally the Vietnamese have their own. Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’. Legend has it that the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon that lived in the mountains. As it charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible.

My 3 day trip through the bay began on an ancient looking Chinese-style 'junk' ship.  The trip was geared for a younger crowd so after a few hours of cruising we jumped off the ship's top deck into the water.  After a bit of splashing and swimming, we took some kayaks to explore the nearby caves created by the wind and waves.

Old Chinese looking junk ship

From Northern Vietnam

From Northern Vietnam

We spent the first night on the ship and where I met my bunk mate for the night named Grant.  Grant was a nice guy and quite an interesting character that had lived all over the world working for an Australian based organization that helped developing countries to train their police force.  At dinner, he told me about how he'd lived in Sudan for a number of years and was now living in Papua New Guinea. 

The next day, we headed for an island where we'd have time to wakeboard and explore more of the bay by kayak.  Wakeboarding in Halong Bay was a surreal experience.  I do it all the time at home, but being pulled behind a boat in bay was incredible to say the least.  Afterwards the tour group all hung out on the island and enjoyed a bountiful meal of fish, squid, chicken, beef, along with fried noodles and rice.

Castaway for day

Wakeboarding Halong Bay
From Northern Vietnam

We spent the next day cruising back to Halong City where the tour ended.  Since I'm pretty far behind on the blog, I've omitting many details in order to catch back up.  Sorry this one is kinda boring.

Fisherman at first light
From Northern Vietnam

Old Fishing Boat
From Northern Vietnam

No comments:

Post a Comment