Hallo, Halong Bay

After two noisy nights inside a rumbling train, my travel partner and I are looking forward to some peace and quiet.

Mobile shoe-cleaning service, only US$1 / RM3.50 each

Nicole didn’t sleep well. The night before, she was sharing the cabin with three men playing The Symphony of Snore-chestra all night long. And I was one of band members. Hehe.
Anyway, on the third day of our trip, we returned to our Hanoi guesthouse. Without much rest, we signed up for an overnight tour of Halong Bay.

Mobile shoe cleaner using the money we paid him to smoke tobacco pipes

As much as I’m normally anti-tour agents, US$50 (RM175) all inclusive is a pretty good deal. It’s nice for once to let someone else do the planning and just sit back and relax.

The two of us were joined by eight other travellers from other parts of the world. Together we departed for Halong Bay at an ungodly hour of 8 in the morning.
Halong Bay is located 4 hours east of Hanoi by bus.

From there, we boarded our traditional wooden junk boat and checked into our cabin.

The boat sailed out and we were served our welcome lunch, which was a fantastic Vietnamese seafood fare.
The first meal was the best meal of the boat trip. Too bad after the good first impression, the meals got crappier and crappier each day.

Unlike Sapa, Halong Bay has long been commercialised and developed as a tourist destination. It may not have the warmth of the minority tribes, but development has made the place accessible and the rates between tour operators competitive.

Halong Bay is a natural wonder, a world heritage site and a top attraction for visitors to Hanoi.
The area is famous for their awesome limestone karst formations rising above the sea, dotted around its bay. It’s every photographer’s dream and I must admit I was impressed.

An overnight stay on the boat at Halong Bay is an experience I highly recommend. There’s nothing more serence than waking up on a gently rocking boat amidst the morning drizzle surrounded by karst limestones.

We were lucky to depart on a clear blue day. The water was beautifully emerald green, shimmering in the sunlight. Sitting on the top deck with our new friends, we had fun watching one island pass by after another.
Some islands have more character than others.
Like Titop Island.

Legend has it that once upon a time, there lived a Very Old Man meditating inside that pagoda on top of the hill.
In the past, people used to climb that treacherous hill looking for that Very Old Man. When they finally reached the pagoda, they would kneel down before him and yell “SIFU!” while the Very Old Man stroked his long white beard and chuckled.

The Old Man would torture them for seven days and seven nights before teaching them kung fu and turn them into the next Bruce Lee.

Unfortunately, that was actually just some bullshit story I simply made up. There’s no Old Man living on the hill top teaching kung fu.

The views on top of Titop Island is beautiful, but all there is is just some hairy Kuching dude sitting there acting stupid.

During the tour, we stopped by one of the many islands to check out the limestone caves.
It was alright , although I’m sure *cough*Sarawakhasbettercaves*cough*. They even had paved walkways and illuminated rock formations with coloured spotlights for the convenience of tourists.

It wasn’t all that exciting.
This is the only rock formation worth seeing inside the cave.

Looks more like the “rock formation” you can see in my pants.
The guide says it’s a “finger”, but I beg to differ.
Fingers don’t have testicles.

In the afternoon, the guide arranged for us some kayaks to get our fat asses working. Kayaking is excellent in a beautiful place like Halong Bay.

Unker Francis Ho must be proud to know that we were the slowest of them all and consistently ended up last among the group.
But don’t blame me! How the hell am I supposed to concentrate when my buddy was paddling like this?

Somehow we miraculously managed to manoeuvre the kayak and had a short tour around the area. We paddled through a small tunnel and looked at some rocks looking back at us.

It was surreal. We felt tiny surrounded by monolithic limestones circling us.

The highlight of our trip was watching the sunset in Halong Bay from our boat.

It was simply sublime. There’s something breathtaking about watching the colours of the water change to red as the sun sets.

Against the backdrop of limestone silhouettes, the more daring ones among us decided to have a dose of adrenaline rush by jumping off the boat and plunging into the water.
It looked fun.
Some even did amazing backflips off the top deck.

Made me feel like joining them also.

I believe I can flyyyyy

Don’t laugh. I SAID DON’T LAUGH!

Nice to know that a project I used to be involved in when I was a Uni student is still going on strong. *sniff*
Curtin University this week plays host to Multicultural Week. kennysia.com readers in Perth, go check out their annual Pasar Malam this Friday night. Six years ago today, I was in the organising committee for that event!

97 Replies to “Hallo, Halong Bay”


  2. Unbelievable, after all the good time you two been through, you called yourselves compete to make each other look stupid? What a statement Nicole has just put there …. Kenny’s entry is more readable then yours la Nicole…. Opss sorry dear Kenny I overacted.

  3. i tried backflip laz time @ d poolside.. at laz, i landed on d ground… head 1st… XD spent a nite in d hospital… haha…

  4. Sorry Kenny. But….
    *Ahem* Couldn’t help myself =/

  5. hi kenny,
    this is the first time i’m ever commenting on your blog. just want to tell you that i enjoy reading your entries alot cause they’re always so full of pictures; and yeap, just to share an older picture here

    sure is full of fun!
    you’re one lucky guy; having a job that has got such flexible timing so that you can travel all over the world(soon!).
    keep up the good job!

  6. kenny, you sure that’s you or not? why is your diving pattern different from what i saw on Nicole’s blog post? I saw you *cough*slowlycrawlingdown*cough* instead of braving yourself jumping off like that.

  7. Dude, for the last photo that you took… i just curious how is your landing in the water… how much point you got in total from the judges? 10; 9.5; 9.5; 9; 7.5; 1.5… LoL :-p

  8. It is almost impossible to hold the laugh…i am still laughing while typing this… soli… very difficult task from u ; not to laugh

  9. Heya Kenny… i really love your blog and the pics..
    Just a question if you dont mind..
    May i know wats the brand/model of the cam you are using for all these photos? I’m planning to buy a new one soon (my Canon IXUS 65 sucks!!!!!!)
    Would really be grateful if you could send me an email? Thanks in advance!
    — tweetie

  10. Hahaha. It’s funny. How dare you could jump like that. I definitely won’t jump like that. I’m afraid of heights and water.

  11. You meditated on the TIT TOP?! SCORE!!
    You said ‘sublime’? I would have thought ‘seminal’ would be a better word for it!!
    Repeat – Nicole is chio..

  12. In picture number 9, the biggest rock formation looks like a sad little puppy…really nice view.
    Keep up the good photos =)

  13. waaoo, it’s like you get paid for going to vacation. how can you afford to go on so many vacations? impressive.

  14. Why is the last pic looks funny ya. Because of the no-feather-wings or the stomping-the-cockroach pose? haha

  15. No – I’m not proud that you’re the slowest in the group…
    But then again in the company of Nicole and on such beautiful waters; why hurry?
    Great pics and a great post – as usual. Oh! Thanks for the mention!

  16. How’d you know we were going to laugh?! Will definitely be checking out the Pasar Malam. It just might be the way to bring back memories of living in a Malay country. =’)

  17. i bet u went to the lowest deck and climbed down the ladder and made a minor jump instead..haha..lol..good try dude.

  18. Wow! Awesome! Although, *cough*Sarawakdoeshavebettercaves*cough* but it’s still worth it, right? And yeah, that so called “finger” limestone looks more like….. Hehehe… Mind me.. So basically, this trip didn’t seem pricey at all. But there wasn’t much to see. You have to take more photos in detail. And last but not least…….. (What? You think I was gonna laugh?) Jeez…

  19. Damm!honesly,why should anybody condone what you do..like eating snakes etc. it cool and legal in there. Why not. i would have done the same thing if i’m there!! haha. By the way .. why should people be so busybody about you and nicole. keep the the good work, both of you.

  20. Can anyone recommend an reputable agency in Vietnam for the Halong tour? I will be traveling with kids under 6.

  21. Hi Kenny, nice entry of Halong Bay.
    This is my 2nd day of backpacking trip in Hanoi, Vietnam, and tmr I am depart to Halong Bay.
    Can’t wait to watch sunset from the wooden junk boat.
    Very cheap, relax and satisfying trip in Vietnam, at least this is how I feel so far, Veitnamese are freindly except they try to charge me double for ALL the items/tickets i purchase haha…:)
    suzanne-backpacker in Hanoi,
    12 Jan 09

  22. very nice detailed report on your travels. bravo for a good well written post. i’ll be making a 6 trip to Hanoi, Maichau, NinhBinh and Halong Bay as well.
    just wondering how many days you spent in Vietnam previously… whether there will be sufficient time for me to explore as detailed as you did…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *