The last of our designated destinations, yet the most awaited. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, it seemed like Halong Bay was calling out to us. A night’s cruise in the midst of serene rock formations and pristine waters in the land of the ‘Descending Dragons’ was a no brainer.
On board, Tuan was the best guide we could have had. Taking care of food preferences as well as giving us a sneak peek into the history and culture of Vietnam, his enthusiasm transcended to all of us. Visiting beaches, kayaking, making spring rolls (or we think we made spring rolls though it looked like something completely different), meeting new people from various nationalities and gorging on some of the best delicacies as we sailed through this serene bay, left us with indelible memories. The most important lesson learnt on this boat though, was that if you don’t have a corkscrew on you, always get your wine bottle opened at the wine shop.
As another day wizzed by, it was time to explore the city of Halong. Land did not seem as alluring as the water had just done, we were going to go ahead and do it anyway. Spending the evening drinking wine and dancing on ‘Saat Samandar Paar’ (there could not have been a more apt song), as tipsy as we were heading into the streets was always going to be an adventure.
Mingling with the cutest group of kids, ordering pizza in a jiffy because we were starving but feeding most of it to them instead, and knowing that it is all worth it when they heartily smiled back at us, I’m cannot use words to describe those moments. They won’t do justice.
Next morning, finding the nearest beach turned into more of a treasure hunt. The clues (directions) were genuinely tough. Once we reached the beach, it was a stretch of white sand, a collection of swaying coconut trees, a light house as far as the eye could see and just the 3 of us on the beach. Once again, all the effort seemed more than worthy. The entire afternoon was spent chatting, taking long walks and just getting to know ourselves better.
Again, the inevitable happened and this day was also rolled over. Time to leave for Ho Chi Minh City to catch our return flight. The ride back to Hanoi airport was a 4-hour road trip which was undertaken as luxuriously as it could have been. A black Sedan, an impeccably dressed chaffuer and the 3 of us feeling like royalty. Adios Halong, you will stay in our hearts.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – Part 2
Barely any time to spend here before our eventual flight back home, doing nothing was not an option as it was New Year’s Eve beckoning. We had seen it from our cab on the way to the hostel, now it was time to experience it. Bui Vien Walking Street, so spell-binding in the way it was lit that there are not enough lights in the world to throw light on how it made one feel. The vibrancy, the people, the atmosphere of this place. In a nutshell, makes you leave a piece of your heart behind.
Then that dreadful moment eventually came next morning, time to go back. Vietnam, you beauty. You made us feel alive. We will definitely come back someday, with better command on the language and lesser need to use Google translate. Until then, Tam Biet!
Note: This article has been shared by Prateik Sachdev, my dear friend who you can see in the pictures above. Prateik, Mishika Poddar and I (Zabeen) went to Vietnam together and had a ball! An exemplary writer, we are grateful for Prateik’s contribution to keep our blog updated.