Happy hungover Saturday! After being fed my best friend’s servings of vodka last night (what did you pour me, triples? Quadruples?) I decided to stick with those nostalgic feelings that come from lazy Saturday afternoons and write about a trip I took a while ago.
Back in 2013 I took the Best Trip Ever™ to Japan, then flew back home to England to visit my family. I knew the come down back to Hong Kong would be hard and I needed something to look forward to so I booked a last minute trip to Vietnam for 3 nights before work started up again.
The top of my list to visit in Asia at the time was Halong Bay. I flew over to Hanoi and spent the night in the Hanoi Elegance Ruby which had the best service I’ve ever experienced and was crazy cheap too. Vietnam is a very cheap country to travel in, you can stay in very luxurious surroundings on a budget. I ordered room service (I had never seen a room service menu so cheap before) and relaxed watching the streets below that night.
The next day started with beef pho (one of the best breakfasts ever) and continued in a chauffeur driven car speeding down to Halong Bay ready for my cruise on the Jasmine. The Jasmine is fancy. It was filled with couples and then me. There wasn’t many people on the boat and it was spacious enough and beautifully decorated.
I had my own room which had a lovely little private balcony. There was a restaurant and bar, an open deck on top, places for sunbathing and sitting. The best thing about the boat was the food. There was a multi course dinner on the first night and then the next day a buffet breakfast (unlimited beef pho for me) and a BBQ that evening.
Activities included kayaking, jumping into the sea from a smaller boat and hearing someone shout “WATCH OUT FOR THE JELLYFISH”, getting a beautiful view with some monkeys to boot after a short hike, visiting caves and a fishing village and motorbiking on Cat Ba. I’ve never been on a motorbike before, I’ve been banned since birth because my dad nearly died on the back of one, but this was an island with no cars so I figured I’d be allowed. And the other option was cycling, which I’m terrible at AND I hate. So that was thrilling. Even going the 10 mph I think the bikes were maintaining made me scream. The woman who was driving it found the whole thing hilarious, I’m glad she enjoyed my company.
Halong Bay is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been and I felt like royalty on the Jasmine cruise. I am just a simple girl from Croydon though, so I’m sure anybody who travels in true luxury might not have been as blown away by the experience as I was. The best last minute trip I’ve ever booked. After the cruise was over, I was chauffeured back to Hanoi. This time to stay in Sofitel. Much more expensive than my last hotel, with a great view of Hanoi. However, I would rather have stayed at the other hotel again, I think. Sofitel was nice, but the other hotel was so much cheaper and the staff were amazingly friendly and helpful. I had a couple of cocktails in the bar that evening and watched the bustle of all those motorcycles from high above. The motorcycle thing is mind blowing. I saw things that defied physics on the back of those things and even a family of 4 on one motorcycle (no sidecar, literally on the seat). It’s really fascinating to watch but incredibly scary to cross the road. You have to just walk and ignore the motorcycles, they are meant to find a way around you. Seriously, just stare straight ahead and walk into moving traffic. Road markings and traffic lights just aren’t observed over there either.
That was my first trip to Vietnam, it was pretty amazing. I’d highly recommend the country to tourists and would say it’s a much better place to go than Thailand, but only in my very limited experience.