I’ll start off by staying this was a terrible hot chocolate, really terrible. It is in competition for one of the worst hot chocolates I have ever had (and one of the most expensive relatively speaking, at 4$!). I don’t know if I was expecting to have a good hot chocolate this morning, it would have really been the icing on the cake, but regardless I had to order it because I wanted to be able to tell you about stunning Halong Bay.
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Vietnam, which encompasses an area of 1,554 km squared including 3,000 islets most of which are limestone. The legend goes that when the Vietnamese started developing the country the gods sent a family of dragons to protect them from invaders. These dragons started spitting out jewels and jade which became the islands dotting the bay linking to form a wall against invaders. After winning the battle the dragons decided to live in the bay which is why it was named Ha Long meaning descending dragon. Today it is a very popular tourist destination and most find their way into dark wooden junks with bright orange sails.
We had planned to take an overnight boat trip around the Bay a day earlier, but the original trip was cancelled because of a typhoon warning. The next day we were able to sail and we chose a very nice boat to do the trip on, the Ginger. The Ginger is a beautiful “junk” and the staff are fantastic. We had so many problems with them before we got on the boat with reservations but once we stepped on board everything was perfect, including our room, the food, the service and the view. Even the weather, as although it never did clear completely and become sunny, it didn’t rain and that was an unexpected surprise considering the typhoon warning only a day before.
The Ginger is a beautiful wooden junk with three decks and ten sleeping cabins. These junks used to be a dark wooden colour, like you see in the brochures for the trip. However they are now all painted a sad, dirty white colour. We asked someone before the trip why this was the case. Apparently a local politician loves the colour white so he decided one day out of the blue, that he wanted all these romantic wooden boats to be painted white. A few incentives later, and all these traditional boats are now painted white on the outside and it looks terrible! Luckily for all of us though the inside has been kept as it was before so from the inside you still get a feel for how it has always been.
We were awoken at 6am the second day of the trip and treated to coffee and pastries before we were taken to a local island to learn Tai Chi on the beach. Sitting on the sun roof admiring the sunrise I asked for a hot chocolate and you already know what I got. I took a few sips and then was more than happy to leave it to take the boat to the island. But again, no one goes to Halong Bay for the hot chocolate, but a nice simple hot chocolate would have just made it such a perfect moment.
Verdict: Halong Bay is one of those trips you will most likely make if you plan a trip to Hanoi and it is worth it to spend a bit more and go on a nice boat. The Ginger was perfect. The décor was gorgeous, the beds comfortable and the food incredible. Skip the hot chocolatethough, and just enjoy the view instead. Ginger, Halong Bay, Vietnam