Halong Bay 10.4.16


Coming up on two months away, I have been backpacking long enough to appreciate small, and funny, details about hostel life. I am also adding and subtracting items from my bag.

Funny things that get me excited:

  • Hostels that provide towels at no extra charge!
  • Hotels with shampoo and body wash in the showers!
  • Hostels with free breakfast!

Items I left behind:

  • A mini straightener. I knew it would be an occasional use item. Now I realized it is far too hot and humid in the places I visit to dry my hair, let alone straighten it. Curly hair and braids are the new norm.
  • A clothesline. Bunk beds make a better drying rack and I have yet to see a dorm or private room with hooks for hanging this line.
  • A soap container. This container held a great soap bar from Lush but the soap never dried inside it. I bought a replacement container from Muji when I was in China.
  • Cosmetics. I received lovely gifts of mascara and soap from people I visited. Because the items were duplicates of ones I already carried, I re-gifted my items to new friends.


  • A camera case. Because of the broken camera lens in Shanghai, I bought a much larger case. The trade off is that the new case offers much more protection than the blue, neoprene case below.
  • A custom tailored dress. I have not blogged about this experience yet so updates to come!

I wish I packed:

  • A sewing kit. My yoga pants and black shirt have small holes. Judging from the size and shape of the holes I think they came from a laundry machine. I had holes repaired in Hanoi and was also borrowed a needle and thread in Hoi An for some quick sewing. I will be on the lookout for a travel sewing kit for sale.

Almost two weeks ago I visited Halong Bay. It was stunning. I think a day with sun, or without rain, would have made for even more striking views.

Cat Ba Island is the largest island in the archipelago of Halong Bay. The island has quickly grown as a tourist destination for domestic travelers. After a 7 hour bus, boat, bus journey with the Good Morning Cat Ba company, I reached the island in the afternoon.


To see Halong Bay and the famous landscape I joined a one day boat tour with Cat Ba Ventures. On the tour we were a group of 9 people. 2 travelers were on a cycling trip through Vietnam and another 2 travelers in the group were on a journey similar to mine. Tours have been a great way for me to meet others, gain travel tips, and be social. An aside: I made friends with the fabulous office manager at this tour company.
Quite the landscape!
An hour long downpour around mid-day. The weather cleared after the rain but the skies remained grey.
In the afternoon we got off the boat to kayak through grottos and around the karst landscape in the bay. My kayaking partner was our guide.
Stepping out of my comfort zone! A jump off the roof of the boat into the warm Halong Bay water.
Many fishing families live in the waters of the bay. These families also have houses on the land and, according to the tour guide, they are relatively wealthy compared to most Vietnamese.


I left Cat Ba Island on this gorgeous, sunny, blue sky day.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Trinity Muller says:

    Please keep telling us about what you gain and shed from your pack along the way. It is on interesting to learn what you really need and what seems unnecessary in retrospect.
    Good job on the boat jump!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Will do Trinity! Happy that the list is so far quite short. I was totally proud of that boat jump. The friend who took the photo had to actually count me down to get me to jump!


  2. Linda Woessner says:

    Love all the photos! So green and picturesque. An added plus of a video this time. Nice. Were you really kayaking or was he your “kayaking sherpa;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha Mom. I was actually quite good for the paddling. Another pair tipped their kayak and it was super full of water. The guide bailed it out but his hand got pinched when they were getting back in. He couldn’t paddle much on the way back. Yes though, I did get the deluxe experience 🙂


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