Thursday 31 August, fine, 31°
After a good nights sleep we got up at 5am for the sunrise. Given that one of the reasons people come to Ha Long Bay is to watch the sun rise over the islands of the bay, it was surprising that only 1 other person got up to watch the sun rising in the golden sky.
After sunrise we went back to bed for a while and then got up for breakfast at 7am. At 7:30am we jumped onto the transfer boat to try a bit of morning fishing, using the traditional long net technique, combined with banging with wooden sticks on the hull of the boat to scare the fish into the net. We came back at 9am after a couple of attempts at setting the net, with 3 small fish and 2 small crabs, so it didn't work that well.
We had to pack up our cabins next, to check out at 9:30am, before the boat cruised back through the islands to near the wharf at the northern end of Cat Ba Island. We had lunch on the way, but otherwise we just relaxed and chatted on the top deck.
At about 12:00pm the speedboat arrived to take us back to the harbour at Dao Tuan Chau ( after a few stops to clear fishing line from the propeller) , and we waited for our bus to arrive to take us back to Hanoi.
The 24 hours we spent on the boat were amazing, with stunning scenery everywhere you looked. It fully lived up to the expectations we had.
We headed back into Hanoi on the same route we came on yesterday, although we stopped at a different statue / clothing / jewellery factory shop this time ( as you drive along you see dozens of these places which are all designed to get the passing bus traffic ) .
We arrived back into Hanoi, over the Red River, back into the heart of the Old Quarter at 4:30pm We were first to get off so we checked back into our hotel ( Hotel Rendevouz ) at, dropped our bags and headed to Highland Coffee for a drink and to watch the traffic chaos around the roundabout.
At about 5:30 we walked to Ho Hoan Kiem Lake to shoot the sunset and then wandered back up the west side of the lake and found a little restaurant in a quiet side alley for dinner ( 2 dishes and 2 beers, D130,000 / NZ$8 ).
We crashed back at the hotel at 8pm. My finger is now pretty swollen and sore, but the scenery, good food and beer certainly helps.
Another long day awaits us in Hanoi tomorrow, with a late start to our train journey south.