Monday, June 25, 2012

Hanoi - Surprise Cave [Part 6]

14 February 2012 @ Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

We woke up super duper early to join the tai chi master on the deck for our morning exercise.

The surroundings is still very misty and could hardly see anything out there.

The morning tai chi session with the cool and chilly winds really freshen things up.

Breakfast was served immediately after our morning exercise.

We were then ferried to Hang Sung Sot (Cave of Suprises) for our last activity on the cruise.

We have to climb quite a number of flights of stairs to reach the entrance of the cave.

Inside the cave, there are 3 chambers. All 3 chambers are well decorated with colourful lights so that the visitors will be able to clearly see the beauty of the natural formations inside the cave.

A mini "lake" inside the cave.

The famous pink "cock rock"

There are wavy patterns on the ceiling of the cave

The 3rd chamber - the largest chamber in the cave

The exit is of a different side from the entrance. From the exit, we were able to enjoy the scenic view from above. The panorama was stunning.

We had our last meal on the cruise while we traveled back to the jetty, and then another 4 hours back to Hanoi.

There's an art centre where the bus stopped for our toilet break and the people there use thread to sew beautiful pictures. The pictures were unbelievably real that from a glance, I thought they were paintings! What an eye opener.

It was already evening by the time we reach Hanoi. We quickly checked into our 2nd hotel and I'll talk more on that in my coming posts. Billy, out.

Next post: Hanoi - Valentine's Evening [Part 7]

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hanoi - After Dark on Paloma [Part 5]

13 February 2012 @ Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

We were told to get to the deck of the boat right after we came back from the fishing village. And we saw fruits, juices and red wine awaiting our arrival.

All 12 passengers from different parts of the world had a good time mingling around while enjoying the refreshments prepared by the crew.

The sky was getting dark and we took a short rest before our next agenda.

At around 6.30pm, we gathered at the restaurant for a cooking lesson!

The dish that we will be making is the Vietnamese Spring Roll. The chef introduced the ingredients and started mixing them up.

Then he showed us how to roll them up using rice paper. Everyone's excited and can't wait to roll their own spring roll.

It's fun to see who has rolled the perfect spring roll. You'll be surprised how many different shapes and sizes of spring rolls we came out with.

That's Mine!

That's hers!

The chef then brings out a pan and deep fry the spring rolls in front of us.

While he's doing that, Jerry explained the most important part of the dish - the sauce. It's made out of chilli, coriander, sugar, water and fish sauce.

Though all the spring rolls were in different sizes, they were all tastilicious!

Dinner was served straightaway and we went for squid fishing after that.

First hand trying squid fishing and I caught one! You need some skills to get one you know. =D

No luck for JooLi though. Only 2 squids were caught throughout the entire session.

The mist surrounded us again and it's hard to see what's really out there. We can only see a few other boats in the sea also stopping there for a night.

The breeze was too cold to bear at night so we headed back to our room to hit dreamland. Billy, out.

Next post: Hanoi - Surprise Cave [Part 6]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hanoi - Pearl Farm & Fishing Village [Part 4]

13 February 2012 @ Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Our next agenda after lunch was to visit the Vung Vieng Fishing Village.

The place looks so calm and serene.

There were limited number of sampans there, so we visited the nearby pearl farm first.

At the pearl farm, they breed their own oysters for pearls. All sorts of jewelries made out of pearls can be found in that mini shop.

Moving to the back of the shop there was a girl (around 16 years old) sitting at the table demonstrating how to implant a little "seed" (mantle tissue) into the oysters to culture the pearls.

On the other side of the table, a man took out a bigger oyster and opened it.

Wua-lah!! A beautiful pearl sits right in the middle of the oyster.

Further into the sea, there were endless rows of oyster farms.

The farmers said that only 10% of the oysters produce good enough quality to make jewelries. And they need many years to culture a pearl. That is why the pearls are expensive.

If you look at the sea water, it's green in colour. That's because there're lots of microorganism in the sea, which serves as food to the oysters. "Yummeh yummeh!" says the oyster.

After visiting the pearl farm, the sampans finally arrived to take us around the fishing village.


The sampans were mainly rowed by young girls as the men are out into the deep sea to fish.

The scenery is breathtaking.

That's us! And Christopher from Australia

All sorts of floating houses you can see on the sea. Some nicely built, some are just an old shack.

Spotted quite a number of canines at the village too.

Selling stuffs on a boat is a common scene in the waters of Ha Long Bay.

Young girl rowing the boat as the brother watches

I can see that this fishing village is still very intact with the way they live, bathing in the sea, washing their boats, weaving fishing nets and playing in that tiny area in front of their house.

We returned to Paloma for a drink at the deck after that. A chance to mingle around with the other passengers. Billy, out.

Next post: Hanoi - After Dark on Paloma [Part 5]

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hanoi - Beautiful Paloma [Part 3]

13 February 2012 @ Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Second day in Hanoi, we woke up super duper early to pack our bags and check out of the hotel.

While waiting for a mini bus to pick us up, we leisurely enjoy our breakfast. The breakfast served was way above my expectations. Bravo Charming 2 Hotel!

At around 7.30am, Jerry, our tour guide came on the mini bus to pick up the both of us, then a few more others along the way and off we go to Ha Long Bay!

4 hours on the road from Hanoi to Ha Long. Our butts were all flatten already after the long ride.

But the interesting part was that we get to meet people from all over the world. There's an old couple from London, father & son from Aussie and another young couple from Penang.

As we confirmed our online bookings with Paloma Cruise, we were led to the pier to board the transfer boat.

The transfer boat took us to further into the sea and WUALAH! Our gorgeous Paloma is waiting for us eagerly.

We were given hot towels while we sat at the restaurant waiting to get our room keys.

Jerry came up very soon and introduce the captain, the cook, the masseur and the crews of Paloma.

Then, we're assigned to our rooms. Everybody gets a free upgrade, again!

We rushed to our room as we can't wait to see how it looks like. But it took us some time to figure out Room No. 8 is labelled as Charity Room on the door...

It's just a small room but it's very well-designed. 

A hammer was also provided to break the window in case the passengers are trapped in the room when the ship sinks. 

I'm indeed impressed with the arrangement of the room and washroom. They even have a separate cubicle for the hot shower. Lovely.

And when you open up the window curtains, you'll see the beautiful sea with all the limestone islands.

The rooms are located on the 1st and 2nd level.

Restaurant & bar is on the 3rd floor.

And on the 4th level is the deck. If it's summer time, people normally sunbath here. But it was winter then...

They have plenty of tables, chairs and beach chairs for passengers to hang out and enjoy the scenery while the ship is moving.

When we were there, the weather was so cold and misty that we could hardly see anything beyond 200 metres.

Well, those mist gave my photos a touch of mystery though.

Throughout the entire journey in the sea, there was only ONE other cruise tailing behind us. Yup, one only.

It's a good thing because we get our privacy and we'll be able to enjoy the scenery without distractions. Many other cruises that takes the common route will have hundreds of other ships sailing together.

Michael from Australia trying to "shoot" the other ship with the dustbin. Quite a fun and young-at-heart guy whom we get to know on the cruise.

Lunch was served on the boat and we went to a village somewhere in the middle of the sea after that. More photos on that in my coming post! Billy, out.

Next post: Hanoi - Pearl Farm and Fishing Village [Part 4]
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