our charismatic tour guide sun picked us up from our hotel at 8am and we boarded a bus of about 15 strong to make the 3-hour drive to ha long city. he compared marriage to a toilet (those outside want to get in, those in want to get out) and said that rice is like vietnam's wife (every damn day) and pho is like its mistress... :D
halfway there we made a pitstop at a warehouse that churns out gorgeous ceramics, so i was able to sneak in and take a few snaps of the work in progress:
we boarded our boat the harbor and were introduced to the rest of the group by our other tour guide vinh. 'the others' consisted of germans, aussies, brits and italians to name a few.
here's a pic of a family selling fruit on a small boat that rode right up next to us, along with fresh seafood at a nearby floating market:
after weaving in and out of these incredible limestone formations, we docked for an hour to hike up to the sung sot cave (cave of surprises), a revelation of stalactites and stalagmites that also houses a giant turtle that brings luck to each individual that pets its head. naturally, i molested the turtle for the next 1/2 hour, so this is about the only pic that's not x-rated.
we even had the chance to go kayaking, which was my very first time out. seeing as i can't swim, i did have visions of capsizing flash thru my brain, but i kept those brief and soldiered on in the name of enjoying what time we have left on this earth...