Spontaneity (n) : the state, quality, or fact of being spontaneous
Before I share my first taste of Vietnam, there’s something you ought to know. Organisation and planning are the core of my being. I like to be in control and know what’s happening. I’m all about to-do lists and itineraries… or used to be. So when we landed in Hanoi airport with our bags, visa approval letters, unworkable phones and limited Vietnamese “Chúng ta có thể đi nhảy disco ở đâu?” (“Where is the disco?” – clearly prepared), I was miles from my comfort zone.
Hạ Long Bay was the only unplanned part of our Vietnamese trip, but by far my favourite. Spontaneity has always been a foreign “way” for me so this was new. And I liked it. We stepped off the plane with no plans. No hotel. No car. No map. We could pretty much do whatever we liked. So we booked ourselves onto one of the last Hạ Long Bay cruise ships within minutes of it leaving.
Hạ Long translates to “where the dragon descends into the sea” and according to legends, the thousands of islands within Hạ Long Bay were created by a great dragon of the mountains. We spent the night on Carina Cruise and this is where I’ll be spending the night next time I visit. Our two day/one night stay was packed out. We did everything, from kayaking to exploring Surprise Cave, swimming (although in hind sight, I would probably avoid), sunbaking and visiting Van Gia floating fishing village. We learnt how to make Vietnamese rice paper rolls and spoke with the tour guides, slowly expanding our very limited Vietnamese vocab. We drank cocktails. We ate. Boy did we eat. Course after course. The chefs were incredible. Our tour guides were a perfect representation of Vietnamese locals – so welcoming and warm. They have such a gentle, nonjudgmental nature, you can’t help but feel comfortable, happy and at peace with them.
This is the type of vacation I’d 200% recommend to anyone that’s after some good ol’ relaxation but still wanting to dip into a new culture, language and cuisine.
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