At 7.30 am, Pati and BeeBee were picked up from their hotel in Hanoi by a shuttle bus provided by their Halong Bay tour company. Their 4 hour trip to Halong Bay took them on roads beside the rice paddy and vegetable fields in the Red River Delta. After the first two hours, there was a half-hour stop for restroom and refreshments. The rest stop was a large complex full of souvenirs (including huge marble statuary for the yard), and a part of the building contained rows of handicapped people creating beautiful cloth murals. The complex was very clean and the souvenirs were expensive.
They arrived at Tuan Chau Wharf at around noon and waited in the “Glory Private Lounge” (a small airy building) for boarding. There were several such lounges at the wharf, and many more are being built.
At about 12:30, they walked down to the pier and onto their ship, Glory Legend II, which left the pier as soon as the last passenger was on board. A delicious Vietnamese set menu lunch was served while they cruised hrough the bay. The ship did not seem to be fully occupied, as there was an empty table at lunch that could seat 8 people.
After lunch, the ship’s tender took them to a pier in the bay, from which the passengers visited a deserted fishing village either by kayak or by boat rowed by a native fisherman. (The village was deserted because the government moved the people out after a typhoon a few years earlier.) The previous villagers now live on land, but come back to that part of the bay every day to fish, because fishing is the only thing they know how to do.
When they arrived back at the ship, they found that the missing people had appeared. They had been off on an excursion while the ship had returned to port to pick up new people (i.e., Pati and BeeBee and the rest). Most of the passengers then sat on the top deck admiring the view and the breeze created by the moving ship. The previously-missing people turned out to be a group from Finland.
At 6:30 pm, the ship’s crew demonstrated how to make spring rolls, and every passenger made at least one. And then ate them after the cook deep-fried them. Yum.
After this, everyone sat around talking and just enjoying the scenery and sunset. Dinner was at 7:30 pm, and new friends were made at the dinner table. Pati and BeeBee’s table companions were a young couple from Germany and Scotland. After the cruise, this couple is headed for Hoi An for a week, so Pati and BeeBee will probably see them again.
The movie Indochine, a cultural film in French with some English subtitles, was offered at 9 pm, because it was set in Halong Bay. Pati and BeeBee were the only passengers to show up, and they gave up after 5 minutes because the subtitle were few and far between. When they left, the crew turned off the movie. Pati would like to find the movie again after returning home, if there is a version with complete subtitles.
They did not participate in the squid fishing that night.