Sailing on Dragon’s Pearl Junk
On board of our charming junk, the Dragon’s Pearl, we received keys to our cabins and we were immediately off to inspect them. Our room was beautifully decorated in a traditional style with wooden floors and walls. Our cabin was located at the back of the boat, looking out over the sea and Bai Tu Long Bay, from its picture window, while Jerome’s was next to the outside walkway. The rooms were on the small side, but then I had chosen the boat for exactly that reason, and after all we were only planning to spend time in the cabin to sleep. We were so excited to finally be cruising limestone karsts in Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay.
Cruising Through the Spectacular Limestone Karsts
The junk had already started to make its way out of the harbour area and we all went up to the top deck in our swim wear to enjoy the sun and views. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the seascape we saw passing in front of our eyes. No photo or video can really do it justice, you have to experience this magical place for real. The limestone karsts at first were visible in the distance and then suddenly they peeked out of the sea everywhere around us. There were exclamations of wonder and amazement from the other passengers and some seemed speechless. I could see that even Jerome could not quite fathom what he saw that nature had created in the Ha Long Bay. The karsts looked like they wear green caps from afar, upon closer looks we noticed the lush green vegetation that grows on the rocky limestone lumps.
Flying a Kite
Fishermen were passing us in their boats while others were still busy with their nets and hoping for a good catch. Drinks in hand we lazed on our loungers and watched the world go by. Our barman had started to fly a kite and Jerome was eager to help him with the line. They spent the next hour keeping the kite in the air, helped by the passage of the boat into the wind.
Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
At some point we stopped to collect kayaks from one of the stations in the bay where they store them. Soon after we anchored in a peaceful spot, surrounded by islets. With our life vests on, we slipped into the kayaks. Chris and I shared one, while Jerome went with the girl of another family on the boat, although he had hoped to get one to himself. Our guide went first and we started to follow him. The emerald water was broken by the splashes of our paddles and we gently glided across the smooth sea. The limestone karsts looked somewhat different, more majestic towering above us. There were deep crevices in some of them and sadly a lot of rubbish everywhere, something we would notice at times throughout the trip, but worse here in a protected area.
Diving and Swimmming
After our return to the boat quite a few people went to go for a swim, I think some of us were put off by the idea of swimming into a jelly. However, the crew were very good at keeping an eye out for the wobbly creatures and most of the jellies are of the harmless variety anyway. To our surprise the kids did not seem to care and were in and out of the water for a long time. They dived in from the front of the tender and climbed out at the back time and time again.
We also noticed a large amount of jellyfish in Ha Long Bay that we already spied from the top of our junk. Some were huge, like big floating white beach balls, others smaller almost transparent with long tentacles. They gracefully drifted past on the currents.
Sundown with Sundowners
The sun had already started to lower itself behind the mounts and I was somewhat sad that we would not get to witness a sunset in this magical place. The cool sunset drinks kept the relaxing mood though. Dinner was served on the outside deck, under the canopy of the starry night sky. The kids had their own table, which gave us adults time to exchange our travel adventures in Vietnam so far.
Again the food we enjoyed was plenty (probably one of my only criticisms on the cruise is that it was often too much!) and very delicious, with a variety of Vietnamese dishes. The cook prepared special meals for the kids on request but we had stuck with the standard food for Jerome. The children disappeared after dinner onto the upper deck, playing cards while we savoured the serenity of Bai Tu Long Bay and chatted into the night. At some point during the evening we watched the moon rise above the karsts and turning the sea into a blanket full of sparkles and magic. It was the perfect end to our first day of this spectacular cruise.
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