|We were up early and packed. Had to pack a small overnight bag for our trip to Halong Bay. It is overcast today. Right at 7:30 the speakers on the street came on with news for the people and propaganda. It also happens at 4 pm as well. The couple from Ireland have left and we have 7 new members: 6 from Australia and one from South Africa ( she is teaching in Seoul for 6 months). We had a 4 hour bus drive to Halong Bay. The road was really rough. There were lots of rice patties. We saw way more bicycles along the highway. It is an overcast day. Our Vietnamese Tour guide stopped a few times and bought different kinds of fruit for us to try. The very small pineapples were cut in an interesting way. We tried a type of mandarin orange. The last fruit was kind of like a very small apple with no flavour that you dipped in a salt/chilli mixture. We arrived to Bai Chay port. A small boat took us from the docks to our boat called Bien Ngoc #18. It has an upper deck with chaises, a middle seating/dining area that is enclosed and the bottom level with our rooms and washrooms. We had an amazing lunch of steamed shrimp, a pork dish, a chilli cucumber salad, spinach with garlic ginger, rice, egg rolls and watermelon for dessert. There is a Vietnamese fable that says that the towering rock formations, called karst, at Halong were formed with the crash landing of a dragon sent by the gods of early Vietnamese Animism to protect the country from an invading navy. There are about 3000 islands of towering limestone in this bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. It is hard to see out very far due to the mist. We stopped and explored the Sung Sot caves. We climbed 149 steps to the entrance. The cave was enormous. There were many large caves connected together. Everyone went to bed early.