Saturday, January 12, 2013

What's Inside Surprise Cave in Ha Long Bay? Ha Long Bay Cruise Day 2

Taken around 6:00am in the morning
After the relaxing massage I had, I had a good night's sleep. As much as I don't want to wake up early, I didn't want to miss the sunrise. Besides, Day 2's first activity was a Tai Chi class on the sundeck at 6:15am! Now, that's a challenge for me!

Not as hard as it looked, woke up around 5:45am and prepared my gear towards the sundeck. I wasn't really interested in the Tai Chi class but I was willing to give it a try. At around 6:15, the class started. I took some photos first and I tried to follow. After a minute, I decided to just take photos. hehe.

Tai Chi Class Onboard Bhaya Cruises
Since not a lot of people was a fan of waking up early, only a few joined the class and after some 20-minute worth of stretching and moving, it was done. At 7am, a typical continental breakfast was served at the dining hall. Bread, jam, cereal, porridge and fresh fruits were served with your choice of coffee or tea. (Ah! Typical breakfast in Europe, I remember). It was just right to fill you stomachs and not too full to ready you for the next activity which was the surprise cave called "Sung Sot".

Cave Operating Hours
At 7:45am, we gathered at the reception area with our life jackets ready, the first tender boat already left and we were waiting for the 2nd boat to arrive to bring us to the caves. The captain mentioned that we are about to climb (with uneven and some steep steps) quite high before actually reaching the caves and therefore, those having difficulty walking are discouraged to climb.

Dock to the entrance of the cave
Before the entrance area of the cave
When we arrived at the destination, we were surprised that there was a long queue going up the caves. People of all ages are slowly making their way up the mountain. We started to group in pairs (buddy system) so we wouldn't loose count of anyone. My wife of course, was my partner.  We didn't know what to expect as we slowly climbed up but our tourist guide told us to continue climbing and we'll see what the surprise is all about.

The Cave
The first chamber was pretty small and we didn't get to enjoy it much as there was just too much people taking photos. Good thing that the last chamber (which was the biggest) was large enough to accommodate all of us, so we had the time to marvel and appreciate the beauty of the cave. Colored and proper lighting of the caves made it more attractive not only to the old ones but also the kids.

Here's what to expect inside the Sungsot "Surprise" cave:

When you reach the top, here's the view:

Ha Long Bay's trademark view
Then, you use the stairs to go down towards the docks to return to your cruise (See above photo. That's the dock where you will re-embark your tender boat.)

What I've also noticed, because the caves are visited by so much tourist daily, there are penguin trash cans every few meters to make sure that litters are properly disposed. This actually reminds me of Hong Kong's Ocean Park as they have the same trash bin. It was a good 1-hour of exercise and once you get out of the caves, souvenir shops and refreshments await by the exit(not free of course). Dont forget to take a picture before heading back down as this is the best place where you could capture Ha Long Bay. Our journey going down was not as tedious so we enjoyed the last leg of our Surprise Cave before reaching our tender boat that led us back to Bhaya.

Big brother taking advantage of little brother!
Another day at work
Upon arrival, Bhaya's friendly staff awaits to give you some more hot ginseng tea and hot towel. We had to check-out our luggages and proceeded to the dining area where we are to have our brunch. We were really hungry by then with all the exercise that we did and was looking forward to filling our tummies. Sausages, omelet, salad, bacon, ham, bread and a lot of carbs filled our stomach as the boat slowly sailed back to the port where the bus has dropped us the day before. Juices and fresh fruits were made available by the dessert area. I felt happy and sad at the same time. Happy because we are going back to land and continue our trip and sad because I felt like an additional night stay on board Bhaya would have been better. As we bid farewell to the captain and his staff, I looked forward to heading back to the city where we started - Ho Chi Minh City.

A common sight in Ha Long Bay
On the way to land
More about Vietnam soon!

Related articles about Vietnam:

Vietnam Shopping Guide
Bhaya Cruise Day 1 - Activities, Food and the Cruise
Bhaya Cruise Day 2 - Surprise Cave 

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