Vietnam Getaway – Christmas in Halong Bay
24 December 2009. In our attempt to escape a dull Christmas, we book ourself for an overnight trip to Halong Bay. We feel that spending the Christmas Eve on board of traditional Vietnamese Junk would be much better than staying in the capital. What we get is much more than simply tranquil Christmas, it is one of unforgettable Christmas Experience.
The 3.5 hours of road trip from Hanoi to Halong City first pass through Hanoi suburb, which undergo a significant amount of development. One hour into the road, the scenery turns to the typical Asian Country Road, full of small houses scattered in a few kilometers. We spent most of the time sleeping instead of interacting with fellow traveler.
The first interaction with fellow passenger is at the Dining Hall. Our Junk, the Dragon Pearl Cruise Junk has 3 decks and equipped with 6 bedroom. A Dining Hall which also function as Bar was placed on 2nd deck, facing the bow. We shared a table with a young Czech couple. “Mia”, said the girl, while shaking my hand. “And he is my husband.” We enjoyed our lunch while telling how we got here. Having studied in US, Mia dominate our conversation, while sometime help to translate for her husband.
We spend the evening exploring the cave, and canoeing. I shared a Canoe with a Swedish lady traveling with her husband and son to visit their foster child, whom they never meet. “We send money for his school for couple of years, so it is time for us to meet him”, she explains. There are a moment of silence when we immerse ourself in the scenery of breathtaking sunset of Halong Bay from our Canoe.
We share a table for dinner, again with Mia and Her Husband. They excuse themselves immediately after dinner and head straight to their bunk. A Vietnamese lady, also a passenger, was playing with 2 daughters of another fellow family passenger, a French-Chinese couple. I went to the sun lounge. The sky was clear, and the sea was calm. With a can of beer to fight off the cold winter wind, I reflect of the year that soon pass by, and the year that soon to come.
I heard a faint Christmas Carol, carried by the wind. It came from our junk, from the dining hall. The Vietnamese lady with the 2 daughters has now singing the Christmas Carol together on the Karaoke. I joined them, we sing together, and soon more crowd gather. They pick the songs, sing with us, all Merry blows out on the Christmas Eve. Song by song, microphone passed among us, until midnight bell finally heard.
25 December 2009, 00:02 AM. I finish the last song for tonight, and close the evening by saying: “Merry Christmas Everyone.”
Other picture of our Christmas at Halong Bay can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/bennyc/in_halong_bay
This post is made for Lonely Planet Blogsherpa Travel Carnival #16: Christmas traditions around the world hosted by Inside the Travel Lab. Visit the previous Travel Carnival hosted by Jennifer @ The Turkish Life