RTW Flashback: Grey Skies In Ha Long Bay
When I arrived in Vietnam on my RTW trip, I knew that I wanted to go to Ha Long Bay. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site located in northern Vietnam and recommended by many of my close friends who have traveled through Asia. When I was researching the trip, many of the trips to Ha Long Bay included multi-day boat cruises. For many of these tours, if you traveling by yourself, there is a supplement you have to pay for being solo. (By the way….what’s with punishing single travelers?). Because I was traveling alone and there weren’t any other solo travelers that I connected with in my guesthouse in Hanoi, I decided I would just do the day tour to Ha Long Bay.
I signed up for a tour at my guest house in Hanoi. The trip to Ha Long Bay would entail a long bus journey there and back and a few hours sailing through the Bay. I was picked up in the early morning and then myself and a group of travelers were on our way via a big coach bus. There were some friendly travelers from all over the world on the trip as well as a really nice local guide. I remember exchanging stories with him since the ride was so long. He shared with me that he loved being a tour guide. He said that his parents were farmers in central Vietnam but he and his siblings didn’t want to be farmers. They decided to go to university and move to the big cities instead.
I actually try not to think about this day too often. When we arrived in Ha Long Bay, I remember that the weather was quite overcast and over 50 boats in the water. The blue skies that I had seen in my friends’ photos were not appearing for me. It was a bit of a letdown. After cruising through the bay, seeing the limestone karst cliffs in person, eating a seafood lunch, and looking at stalagmites and stalactites, we headed back to Hanoi. On the way home we witnessed the aftermath of a fatal accident on the road. A very large transport truck had hit a man on a scooter. We did not witness the crash but saw the frenzy afterward. Cars, vans, and buses were at a standstill. The paramedics could not get through all the traffic to reach the man pinned under the truck. It was a devastating sight. I sat in my seat shielding my view as we drove past and when I got back to my hotel I locked myself indoors. I was pretty shaken up and in shock from the experience.
When I found these photos last week in my drive I see the beauty in the images that I didn’t see then. Even though it was far from being a picturesque experience, I have accepted that it was all a part of my journey. The overcast skies in the photos remind me of how I felt at the time. The experience in Ha Long Bay was a life lesson for me. Not every travel experience will picture perfect. There will be bad days on the road but I will survive and I will move forward.
I’ve always tried to keep it light when it comes to my writing here. I wanted my blog to be a place where I shared helpful travel tips and guides. Lately, I’ve been wanting to share a more personal side to my experiences. Let me know what you think in the comments and if you have had an experience from your travels that was disappointing at the time but now is a fond memory.
FOR MORE HELPFUL POSTS AND LINKS
- Nha Trang: A Vietnamese Beach Destination
- Top 10 Things To Do In Hanoi
- Hanoi Photo Diary
- Hoi An: A Vietnam Must Do
- Tam Coc: A Day Trip From Hanoi