Taiwan and Vietnam


Day 12

Breakfast and pickup

Another early start and we were downstairs for an early breakfast. I tried a mango crepe this time, which wasn’t too bad and before long we were out the front waiting for our bus.

As I was killing time, I was just staring out at the frantic traffic thinking how much focus is needed to be on these roads and how sleepy I was, not a good mix, my train commute in the morning back home is pretty different!

We boarded the bus with a few other groups and made our way out in to the misty countryside on our way to Halong City. The tour guides that picked us up were apparently named “egg” and “coffee”.


After stopping for a quick toilet break, the next stop was another gift shop although this time it was to sell pearls. We got to see the process to make a pearl by tagging along with one of the other tour groups and inside was a massive store selling all the jewelry they have made.

Boarding our cruise

The next stop was our port where we settled the bill for the cruise and waited to board a small transport boat that would take us to our cruise ship.

At the port, we were welcomed with a glass of tea but none of us really liked it.

There was a bit of a mix up with the bill but once that was sorted we lined up to get in the transport boat to the cruise ship.

Our little transport boat took us to the cruise ship and we were welcomed with a drink and found the table they had reserved for our group by putting an Australian flag on it. It was pretty cool to see all the different countries flags on all the tables, there was America, Canada, Israel, Singapore and Australia but there would be more as the people changed over for the next tour.

We had our introduction to the boat and the proceedings for the next couple of days and then had some time to find our room and relax for a little while they prepared dinner for us.

We went back to the dining hall to eat lunch and the buffet was pretty big and delicious.

Fishing village visit

After lunch we boarded the transport again and headed out to a floating fishing village. Our tour guide gave us some information and the choice to take a kayak to paddle ourselves or a row boat where someone will row for us. It was raining a bit and we weren’t quite prepared to get that wet so we opted for the row boat. The tour was quite well organised, they had umbrellas for us too.

As we made our way towards the fishing village there were floating platforms that had houses and fishing farms. There were also a surprising number of dogs out there too. Our tour guide explained that the people living out here were polluting the bay quite a lot so the government provided houses for all the people on the mainland but they still go out to the bay to work and farm.

Once we had done our loop around the village, the last stop was a platform where they showed us how the make the pearls and had a big gift store. We didn’t buy anything but Amy got a nice pearl bracelet.

Spa and dinner

From there we headed back to the ship. We had a bit of time to kill so we decided to run a bath as our room was equipped with a nice spa! The only problem was the water pressure was pretty poor and it took at least half an hour to fill but we just relaxed on our private balcony enjoying the view while we waited. I managed to get a nice time-lapse too.

By the time the bath was ready it was actually time for the cooking class on board where they would teach us how to make spring rolls but we decided to skip it and enjoy the bath instead.


For dinner was another buffet, also with a pretty good spread. Because it’s Christmas Eve, they made a roast leg of pork and a turkey.

Squid fishing

Every night they offer squid fishing from the transport boat that gets towed along from the back of the ship. Anth and Amy were very keen on this so they were first out there. We joined in later but I clumsily managed to get the hook caught on my thumb as I was preparing the rod so I didn’t do much fishing. Luckily those rods get used quite a bit and the salt water keeps them fairly clean but I used the first aid kit, washed the scratch with saline solution, applied disinfectant and put a band-aid on.

It was pretty nice out there though, they shine a light on the surface of the water to attract the squid but apart from one that came up for a look and then ran away, we didn’t see anything more than a few small fish. Rob did catch a plastic bag though, so that was good.

Christmas extravaganza

At 9:30pm we were encouraged to go back to the dining hall for “a small party” where they would have games and a Christmas celebration.

This was very nice of them to do for Christmas, considering they down really celebrate Christmas here. They sang Christmas carols in Vietnamese and one of the crew even dressed up as Santa Claus and have us all presents, although they were asking us before hand how to pronounce “Santa Claus”so they get out right Infront of everyone!

There were some games too, the first one was “share the banana with a friend” where they got three couples up on stage, blind folded one of the people and asked them to try to peel a banana with one hand (which most people just used two) and feed it to their partner, first to finish wins a prize. Bec and I did it for a laugh but we did not win.

The next game was where one person wore an apple in a string and the partner had to eat the apple. Amy and Rob got up for this before they knew what it involved but then ran away when they found out!

Rob has to draw a face on a piece of paper while he was blind folded but managed to draw some of it on the wall instead but he’s competition was a little girl and there was no way anyone was going to let him steal the victory from her!

Tommy, the cruise manager also performed some magic tricks and ended with a game where you throw rings to try to land around a bottle and you get a free drink for each one.

It was really nice of them to put on this event, we had complimentary wine, prizes and even a gift each from Santa, even though there were quite a few awkward, cringeworthy moments in there, we spent the whole night laughing.

After the official proceedings (and Amy rescuing us from the remainder of the event) we went to Anth and Amy’s room to exchange our own gifts.

The gifts were all great and it was a nice way to spend Christmas!