After spending 3 days and 4 nights in Hanoi we hopped on a bus for a 3 hour drive east to Ha Long Bay. The plan was to spend one night aboard a junk, which is a Chinese style boat before making our way to Cuc Phuong National Park. However, due to bad weather we were only able to enjoy our boat cruise for a few hours before returning to land and spending the night in a hotel. Overall it was a good call to bring us in as overnight we experienced quite a storm.
The few hours we did have aboard the junk were not wasted. After enjoying a six course meal (that was all seafood) we sailed through the limestone islands for which Ha Long Bay is known for. As you can see by the pictures the views were amazing.
During our short stay we made two stops. The first was to Sung Sot Cave (otherwise known as Surprise Cave). Here we took a short (though some what strenuous hike) into a cave carved out of the limestone by water. The cave was comprised of several allergy chambers (that seemed to keep going and going and going)with gorgeous (and world famous) stalagmites and stalactites. For those who do not know, stalactites are “icicle” like formations of calcium (or magnesium) carbonate often found in limestone caves. These features hang down from the cave ceiling (hence the icicle reference) and form as slightly acidic water dissolve limestone only to allow it to precipitate as it drips from the ceiling. Stalagmites form in a similar fashion, however, they form from the ground up, like upside down icicles. When the water hits the ground, remaining calcium carbonate will precipitate on the ground. Overall the cave was quite cool (both literally and figuratively).
After a short stop at Sung Sot Cave some students decided to kayak to Titov Island (others took a little shuttle boat). Here they enjoyed swimming and laying out on the beach. A few took a trek up to the top of Titov Mountain for an awesome panoramic view of the Ha Long Bay harbor. By mid afternoon we had received word that the government was ordering all boats to dock and we were informed that we would have to stay on land. Although our trip was cut short, the brief experience we were able to receive on the Ha Long Bay was one we would never forget!