Thursday, September 18, 2008

Halong Bay

This trip could have been less than 10 days long, but Ed and I agreed we wanted to see as much of Vietnam as was possible with a new baby. So we signed up for an overnight to Halong Bay at the end. I'm so glad we did, but let me say it was also quite a grueling trip for a 10-month-old (almost 11-month-old!)

It started with a 3 and a half-hour bus trip, in a small bus that was completely full. Thank God this wonderful Vietnamese grandmother sat next to Ed and offered to hold, rock and sing to Sam for a good hour. Everywhere we go, women rush to hold him and help with him. It's really amazing. Sam also decided to fill his diaper pretty much right as we pulled out of the hotel, so when I went to change him at the "rest stop" it was quite a mess. This woman in the bathroom saved my life helping out. (We have now changed him on some of the dirtiest floors and toilets in the world.)
The beauty of Halong Bay are these thousands of limestone islands jutting out into the Gulf of Tonkin.

The boat was was nice but nothing very fancy. No Love Boat-type cruise. Our room was off the top-floor dining room and most other cabins were below. The men who ran the ship were nice. They also held Sam a lot. The captain even let him help steer the ship. (The captain steered with his feet!)

Sam even did his first spelunking! We toured a cave inside one of the limestone caverns. He slept through most of it.

Fishermen live on these floating boats. There was a baby living on this. I took this photo while ed went kayaking. We also swam on a sandy beach (Sam loved it), and Ed and I swam later, jumping off the boat.

Our room was super tiny. About 6 by 8 feet (no Schlumpf exaggeration factor). The three of us slept horizontally, which actually worked out OK. It was super hot, but there was AC from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in our room. Our room did have the rudder going through it, so we could see it move everytime we turned.

This is the luxurious kitchen where the crew fixed our meals. Are you getting the gist of how this was more like camping than a cruise? Still, we are glad we went, and Sam was a trooper.

Best part was watching the harvest moon at dusk from the top deck of the ship. Very romantic, even if you have a baby with you!


LaLa said...

WOW...this all looks amazing. I am thinking we may have to do this in a day trip as I am unsure how my 4 year old would fare and if I would sleep worrying about her jumping off the boat (she loves to swim)

I love how the women want to help with the babies. It is so sweet!

Anonymous said...

It's so amazing how when looking at the photo of the three of you together in the cave, it's as if you guys have always been just that..... .........the THREE of you. What an incredibly beautiful family you are. Can't wait to see you all in person.:)

xo Kristi

vi0linista said...

Everything looks so beautiful, but to see your family together is the most touching and beautiful sight of the whole trip. Sam seems to be an incredibly well-behaved baby...Can't wait to see you when you come back...
William, Maria and Nico

roseylittlethings said...

Wow, What an amazing adventure and such special memories:)