That moment when you want to get drunk in a foreign country and you can’t, because, you have to wake up early the following day for a well specified itinerary…it’s worth it. The cruise ships were all docked in a calm part of the bay and as soon as the sound died down, with only the minimum sound of wave and occasional engine noises, the bay was peaceful and almost completely dark except for the lights illuminating from the ships.
We were on bed before 10pm because I promised myself to wake up as early as 5am to capture the sunrise in Halong and make a time-lapse video of it. Well, after a lot of practice, albeit still amateurish, and an improvised tripod to mount our GoPro, we were excited for the sun to rise. I was up at 5am and headed to the roof deck and I was surprised that I wasn’t the only one who had this idea. With the help of the compass, I set my gopro where the sun will rise and waited patiently. The weather didn’t cooperate and as soon as we learned that the sun will never shine we headed back down and tried to get at least an hour more of sleep before they call us for breakfast. We were still happy that it didn’t rain as it will ruin the tour. Breakfast was served at 7 am and the activity will start at 8am.
Hang Sung Sot. Our first stop for the day was the amazing Hang Sung Sot cave. From our cruise ship, we were transported via small boat to Hang Sung Sot, a very famous cave with incredible stalactites and stalagmites. Our tour guide informed us that the cave is consisting of four levels and there is only one entrance and one exit. So, once you’re in, you have to finish it until the end. We started the trek on a narrow and winding steps and found the tiny entrance that don’t fit two people. The inside of the cave gave you a very surreal feeling and if not for the tourists, the cave would be frightening. I was actually waiting for some bats to come flying. There were artificial lights glowing in colors vibrating a red or sometimes blue hue that made it a little more enthralling. The cave was so wide and the different sizes and shapes of stalagmites and stalactites were everywhere. The fresh natural breeze gave a comforting feeling. For the next 30 minutes we kept exploring the cave and we busied ourselves with admiring the rock formations.
At the top of the cave, where the exit was situated, we got the most amazing view of Halong. From where we were standing, the view was breathtaking. If only we could stay there a little bit longer, that would be awesome, but, nope, we have an itinerary to follow.
After touring the cave, we were brought back to the ship. Those who were only for a “one-night and two-day” stay were given a free time which they could spend swimming or taking a rest. But, for us who booked for a ‘two-night and three-day” stay, we were asked to have a little rest and to check out after 15 minutes. We needed to checked-out because we will be sent to another boat to transport us to Catba Island where we would be staying for the night. The next time we will be on the ship will be the following day.
The cave, the floating island, the rock formations, the islets, and the limestones are what made Halong Bay a unique travel destination. The serenity and the pleasure of a cruise ship stay adds for a wonderful stay. No wonder, Halong Bay is popular all around the world.