Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, Halong Bay, long term travel, Southeast Asia, Travel, Vietnam

Hungover in Halong Bay


We made our way back to Hanoi from Sapa by overnight train and literally walked to a hostel and signed up for a 3-day trip to Halong Bay that left the same morning. There was just enough time to grab a shower, check our backpacks and pack a smaller overnight bag. Call me crazy!

We had heard that Backpackers Hostel in Hanoi was known for its organized trips to Halong Bay, and we had heard it was quite difficult to organize your own trip, so this seemed like a good idea and a fun trip.

We boarded a tour bus with about 20 other travelers and made our way to Halong Bay. We transferred to a junk boat and got settled into our rooms and then sat down for lunch. Then, the debauchery began. This consisted of the consumption of large amounts of alcohol, card games, more consumption of alcohol, jumping off the mast of the boat, some organized activities, including kayaking and caving, followed by the consumption of more alcohol into the wee hours of the morning.

With all of the fun we were having (yes, I felt like I was on a college spring break trip), I am forgetting to tell you just how beautiful Halong Bay is. The bay is made up of islands and inlets formed by giant limestone casts. It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The harbor is dotted with numerous junk boats, which are old elaborate dark wood boats with bright fan like sails. These boats were invented by the Chinese, however, I still can’t find out why they are called “junk” boats.

After pulling ourselves out of bed the following morning for a 7:30 wake up call, we nursed our hangovers with a greasy breakfast and transferred to a smaller boat that was taking us to “Castaway Island” for the remainder of the trip. This island was only a small beach that sat at the foot of a tall limestone rock. It was literally big enough for a small restaurant and bar and five small huts for sleeping. The huts were basically a wood floor and thatch roof, with a mattress and mosquito net.

By the time we arrived on Castaway Island I was starting to feel like a human again, so the rest of the day was spent kayaking, exploring deserted beaches, chasing fiddler crabs, playing volleyball and lounging in a hammock.

After dinner, the rain arrived, so we were confined to the bar area, where there was less debauchery but still enough consumption of beer going on. The hangover wasn’t as bad the following morning, and I had to ask myself if I was becoming better at this game?

The following day, we made our way back to land and back to Hanoi with a little less energy than we started out with, but with new friends and memorable travel stories…

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