Ha Long Bay Vietnam: A Grey Skies Flashback From My RTW Trip
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 travelled 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 are travelling by yourself, there is a supplement for solo travellers. (By the way….what’s with punishing single travellers?). Because I was travelling alone and there weren’t any other travellers that I connected with in my guesthouse in Hanoi, I decided just to do the day tour to Ha Long Bay.
At my guest house, I signed up for a day tour. The trip to Ha Long Bay would entail a long bus journey there and back and a few hours sailing through the Bay. In the early morning, a group of travellers and I were on our way via a big coach bus. There were some friendly travellers from all over the world on the trip as well as a really nice local guide.
Because the ride was so long, we talked a lot and exchanged stories. He loved being a tour guide and you could tell. He told me 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 big cities instead.
If I can be honest, I try not to think about this day too often. When we arrived in Ha Long Bay, the weather was quite overcast and there were 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. Shielding my eyes from the view, we finally drove past the accident. Once we got back to the hotel, I locked myself in my room, shaken up and in shock from the experience.
When I found these photos in my hard 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 like everything, we survive and 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.