19th May 2019; another hot day!
And finally, today was the long-awaited day! We’re going for a cruiiiiise!!!
This was me and Ann’s main goal in taking this holiday. It took us quite long time to search and finally I found this UniCharm Cruise from the internet just few days before our flight to Hà Nội. And apparently this was the cruise recommended by Ann’s friend too! What a coincidence! I found their website and chat to their staff. And because we were recommended by Ann’s friend we got 20% discount. Because I chatted to the staff we got additional 10% discount. In total we paid USD310 for two, for an unforgettable 2D1N cruise day. ٩(｡•́‿•̀｡)۶
I could say this was the best cruise in Hạ Long Bay! Unicharm Cruise somehow has its own special route where there were no other cruise knows, not over-crowded by tourist, passed by gorgeous limestone mountains, interesting activities, 4-stars-hotel class, super clean and superb food – you definitely want to try their fresh prawns!! (っ˘ω˘ς )
They picked us up from our hotel in Old Quarter around 8:30AM. The shuttle drove about 2.5 hours crossing the bridge to Cát Hải island. From the island our shuttle rode the ferry for 30 minutes and we arrived in Cát Bà island. Then we drove for another 30-40 minutes to Gia Luận Ferry Terminal, about 35km from Cát Bà town. We all alighted the shuttle, hopped on a small boat and head to our Cruise.
Our itinerary for today was: lunch, kayaking (at around 3PM), swimming, snorkeling, cooking class, happy hour drinks (5:30PM – 7:30PM for buy 2 get 1 free), yummy bbq dinner and rest. The cruise run quite fast from near the ferry terminal to its designated spot in Lan Hạ Bay. And once it arrived there the cruise was as steady as a rock we couldn’t even feel the waves anymore. <(￣︶￣)>
We get to know each other fast during lunch time because there were only 11 of us on board. There are more staffs than u; a couple from UK, another couple from California, siblings from UK, a family from Malasia and us. We always had overflowing meals and the staffs were very friendly, very helpful. Our tour guide Mr.Binh also a helpful guy who explained to us a brief of history and jokes along the way from our shuttle until our last day on the cruise. We had such a great time. \(★ω★)/
We head for kayaking at around 3PM. Hopped to the small ferry tied behind our cruise, they brought us to a small kayak station; a floating house somewhere around Lan Hạ Bay in the middle of those limestone mountains. And again, we couldn’t see any other tourist kayaking in our areas.
TBH I am not a sporty person – excuse for my arts and music enthusiast. So when I tried to paddle I found it very difficult to find the balance and paddle it straigt-forwardly following Mr. Binh direction. Poor Ann who sat behind me on our orange kayak – she kept on telling how to paddle, when to give more force and when to stop the paddle to turn the kayak to the correct position. It was just too tough for me and it sore my upper arms. (*/ω＼)
But since I was – and am – still a lucky duck, I didn’t have to worry about this. After a very challenging situation where I tried my best to push myself and forget about the painful arms and somehow made Ann a little bit proud of me, eventually my struggle has brought attention to Mr. Binh; because I was so lousy at paddling the kayak I got the privilege to hop on his boat, enjoyed the scenery, took pictures and let the pro dealt with it. No shame at all. <(￣︶￣)>
Mr. Binh brought us paddling to a small exclusive grotto where we could rest and relax for about 15 minutes. Some of us went to swim in this green-murky water, snorkeled and tried to find the “invisible” red corals, or just sat quietly on our kayaks and enjoy the charm of limestone mountains surrounding us. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
We then paddled back to the kayak station, return the kayaks and paddles, hopped into our ferry and returned to the cruise. We had ample of time to swam around the cruise, refresh ourselves, had some selfies, relaxed on the sun deck watched the sun setting and finally gathered for the happy hour.: I had Vanilla Gorilla, it was like a milkshake and highly recommended for those who prefers sweet drinks!
And that was the third aperitif for the last 3 days in Hà Nội. And it did make me sleepy.
Meanwhile please enjoy this legend of Hạ Long told by Mr. Binh; (⌒ω⌒)
Hạ Long literally means “descending dragon” and it is originated from a legend of this ancient land.
The legend says that during the old time when the country was newly formed, Vietnamese had to fight against fierce invaders coming from the North through the sea. Feeling sorry for the country, The Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon and her children descending on earth to help ancient Vietnamese people defend the country.
While the mighty enemies were attacking the main land, The Mother Dragon and her children suddenly appeared and incinerated the enemies with their divine fire and giant emeralds. The emeralds from the dragon’s mouth were scattered around the battlefield on the sea and formed an invincible defensive wall that left enemy battleship fleet sinking. Thanks to the dragons, the Northern invaders were finally swept away and the peace finally came back the South East Asian country once again. After thousands of years, the wall of emerald turned into island and islets of different sizes and shapes.
After the battle, The Mother Dragon and her children didn’t come back to the heaven, but stayed in the mortal world and turned into human form and help people planting, cropping, raising cattle, reclaiming, and expanding the country.
To remember the help of Mother Dragon and her children, the people live there from generation to generation name the bay where the Mother Dragon descended “Hạ Long or Halong” and the bay where her children descended “Bai Tu Long”, which means “Thanks to the Dragon’s children”. This legend is also a part of the general belief that Vietnamese people’s has Dragon’s origins.
See you tommorow with more incredible sceneries offered by this cruise trip! ☆ ～(‘▽^人)