Saturday, March 7, 2009

On a junk in Ha Long Bay

Hey! We slept on a junk in Ha Long Bay in the Chinese Sea last night, about 150 miles from the Chinese border, still in Vietnam. As we approached the boat pier after a long drive through traffic chaos, we weren't sure if we were up to spending the night on a boat with our fellow rally colleagues...but I am glad we did. Counter to what the name of this type of boat may suggest, the junk was not junky at all, but actually a very nice boat. My dad and I had the biggest beds so far on our trip in a beautiful wooden stateroom aboard. The crew shipped us out to sea for a few hours to a cave in the side of one of the large rocks sticking out of the water...and we had dinner in a cave! Nice buffet, complete with dancers and bottles of Vietnamese wine (not bad!). 

In the morning, we were woken up by the boat's diesels ferrying us back to shore for a late 8.30 am takeoff. We had a long way ahead of us to the Chinese border and then on to our overnight stay at Beihai. 

The border crossing out of socialist Vietnam into communist China was one hell of an event. It was our seventh border crossing. Imagine a border through which normally thousands of people on foot cross from Vietnam to China and back. Here we are, 25 European SUV's with equally unusual looking drivers and passengers...all full of dirt. It was a big spectacle, lots of photos being taken, every nook and cranny of our cars being searched and inspected. it took a while, but everyone was very friendly and no troubles were had.

We're at the Shangri-La hotel in Beihei, China, for tonight. Tomorrow, we'll drive to Macau and drop the cars at the container shipping company!

Our hotel for last night! The Bai Tho junk "Du Lich" in Ha Long Bay, Chinese Sea in Vietnam.
It was cold last night...maybe 50 degrees, but we enjoyed the views of the rock formations from the bow of the junk.
Crazy...dinner in a cave miles and miles off the Vietnamese coast.

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