On New Years Eve 2016, we decided to spend the night bringing in 2017 on the breathtaking Ha Long Bay. Locals say Ha Long Bay contains 1,969 islands - the same year Ho Chi Minh died. In reality there's probably closer to over 2,000 of them, but I like the idea of 1,969 to represent 1969. Halong translates to "where the dragon descends into the sea". Legend has it that the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains who charged towards the coast, with its flailing tail gouging out valleys and crevasses. The area filled with water when the dragon plunged into the sea. Another legend says that the people prayed to be protected from the pirates. A dragon appeared and spit fire that turned into pearls, which then became limestone islands in the sea. The pirates then crashed into the islands and the people were saved. Either way, a dragon supposedly helped create this majestic site :) #dragonsdoexist #didtheycreateotherbeautifulareasaroundtheworld? #wemayneverknow
After a 3 hour drive from Hanoi, and making some new friends along the way (who ended up being on a different boat :( #bummer), we finally arrived in Ha Long Bay. We were shuffled over from the dock to our beautiful boat, the Dragon Legend, operated by Indochina Junk. Before we got to our rooms, we were briefed on safety instructions in case the boat sank #letshopenot, and our 2 day itinerary. We then got to enjoy a yummy lunch.
Honestly, our rooms on this boat were the best we had during our whole trip to Vietnam! They were spacious, comfortable, and nicely decorated. We not only had gorgeous views of the bay and limestone islands from our bedroom, but also from the big corner Jacuzzi bath in the bathroom. #needtotakeabubblebathlater We relaxed and explored the boat for a bit before we headed out kayaking.
Our boat tour also included a nice hour or so kayak ride around Ha Long Bay right around susnet. We got to enjoy the beautiful limestone islands up close from the peaceful, bobbing ocean. Perfect way to close out our 2016 :)
After our kayak adventure, we had a few hours to relax before dinner. Nate relaxed and enjoyed the views from the boat while I read my book while enjoying the views from a relaxing bubble bath :) We then headed upstairs for the evenings celebration to bring in the New Year.
We had some cocktails and met some guests on the boat while waiting for dinner. Then sat next to some new friends, Matt and Danielle, who were enjoying their 1 year anniversary for a tasty dinner. The crew on board only gets to drink/party with the guests 2 days a year - Christmas, and NYE - and we happened to be on the boat NYE #score #bringiton This created a fun relaxing atmosphere where the guests and the crew got to celebrate the new year together - which I thoroughly enjoyed.
After dinner, we were treated to a Champagne toast (#myfav), some performances by the crew playing traditional Vietnamese instruments, and the bartender who performed some magic card tricks and used Nate as his guinea pig!
The wonderful crew performing traditional Vietnamese music below:
After the performances, the party on the boat began! The crew hooked up their computer and we had a big dance party on the floor of the main dining room. The bartender entertained Nate and Matt with more magic tricks outside at the bar, and people even got to try some night squid fishing - although the boat engine I think was too loud for anyone to catch anything. Some of the guests started going back down to bed around 10-11pm but our night wasn't over until at least midnight - it was NYE! So the remaining 15 or so of us and the crew went up to the top deck and continued the dance party and champagne toasts until we brought in the New Year. The crew was also asking to take pictures with us as well, which I think may have been do to the blonde hair but I was more than happy to oblige :) Finally, around 1am - we decided to call it a night but it was such a fun way and a beautiful spot with even more beautiful, fun people to say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017.
Nate and I getting a private performance by one of the crew below who was playing the Dan Nguyet (or Dan Kim), which as a 2 strings and a resonator that resembles the moon - meaning moon lute.
Saying hello to 2017!!
At 6:30am (yes, 6:30am after partying until around 1am....) #tooearly #butyolo, guests were invited to perform morning Tai Chi on the top deck of the boat. Tai Chi is a non-competitive series of slow, flowing body movements with its routes in martial arts. The Tai Chi movements emphasize concentration, relaxation and practitioners focus on their breathing and keeping their attention in the present moment. I also had to focus on not being too hungover #powerthrough It was difficult getting up this early after NYE to say the least, but it was a nice experience and a wonderful way to start my first morning of 2017. After morning Tai Chi, I headed down to the dining room to enjoy some yummy pho and a beer at 7am #breakfastofchampions #beerwasperfectafterthenightbefore #ineedphoforbreakfastmoreoften
After breakfast, our boat headed over to Bai Tu Long Bay and visited the 1,000 year old Thien Canh Son Cave on Paradise Island. Underneath a forest canopy and stone cliff, we headed up about 100 stone steps towards the cave. The cave is renowned for its unspoiled beauty with the ceiling of the cave covered in what appears to be a sparkling carpet with sparkling stalactites hanging down and drooping like natural hanging lamps. The inside has 3 main chambers and has numerous stalactites and stones in various shapes and sizes with sunlight streaming in. We also were provided with beautiful views of the bay from the openings of the cave. This was a great way to end our cruise. #stillhungover #worthit
After we got back to shore, Nate and I decided to relax for the first day of the new year at the Novotel Hotel in Ha Long Bay. We were hoping to have beautiful views of the bay but unfortunately it was pretty foggy and there was construction going on below us. We didn't let that ruin our day though, we got to Facetime with friends back home for their NYE, nap, and both enjoy a 90 minute hot stone massage #perfect We ended the night with some room service before our early wake up call to drive 3 hours back up to Hanoi and catch a morning flight down to our next destination on our trip in central Vietnam - Hoi An. Tune in for the next blog for the last part of our trip :)
Follow in our Footsteps:
Indochina Junk Boat
Vinashin Habor, No 6A Le Thanh Tong Street - Hon Gai Quarter - Halong city - Quang Ninh Province - Vietnam
T: (+84) 336250475/76 - Ext: 228 M: (+84) 932 348683
Website, Dragon Legend Boat
Novotel Ha Long Bay
160 Ha Long road, Bai Chay ward, Ha Long city, Quang Ninh,
Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province 200000, Vietnam
+84 33 3848 108
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!