Halong Bay — The sunken mountain range
First off, and most importantly, Halong Bay is one of the easiest places in the world to take a kick-ass Instagram photo(#doitfortheinsta). If there is a Buzzfeed list out there, it has to be in the top 5.
The bus ride from Hanoi out to Halong bay was a long, sweaty, tourist crammed, 4-hour trip. This was also our first extended exposure to the insanity of Vietnam traffic. Now, to understand Vietnam rules-of-the-road, you should first understand there are traffic flow signs/lights at maybe 2–5% of traffic crossings in Vietnam (*this observation is based on Hanoi mostly). So, each driver assumes he/she has the right away until some other drivers asserts their own right away. This is compounded by the lack of street dividers/lines. So, reconnecting with the Halong Bay storyline now, our bus darted and weaved it’s way through traffic, both ‘sides’ of the highway, all of the four delightful hours. Keep in mind, this driving is normal, so all drivers are aware to lend the right away, maintaining this delicate road rule chaos.
Once we boarded our ship, a creaky, deteriorating POS called ‘Fantasea’ (named after the tourism company), we motored out into the thick cloud of engine exhaust haze courtesy of the massive tourist boat regatta. Fortunately, this layer of smog lifted as we continued deeper into the bay.
The three day voyage was highlighted by a short kayak trek into a high-walled lagoon and a hike into the rain forest of Cat Ba Island. Below are some quick snaps from the trip!