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Put up #10: Halong Bay Via Phnom Penh

Paraphrasing the immortal phrases of Ke$ha… I woke up within the morning at my Siem Reap feelin’ like P-Diddy… maybe staying up till 2AM drinking in Pub Street last night wasn’t the perfect concept ever.
However nonetheless… may very well be worse (my buddy needed to catch a flight again home at 6AM).

Stone Island Cotton Tela Coat In Red WineThere are direct flights from Siem Reap to Hanoi by Angkor Air and Vietnam Airways, but by some means they had been all booked up by the point I was looking for them.

Google search: “Flights from Siem Reap to Hanoi”
So I am left with a flight from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh for a 6-hours layover earlier than catching one other flight to Hanoi. And honestly, I used to be truly type of thrilled to be flying on a turbo-prop.

Yes, the premier airline in Cambodia still employs a propeller powered passenger airplane. Nevertheless it was really quite good, very clean flight, much cleaner and quieter than most planes I have been on within the US. (Shame on you United and American).

As soon as I arrived at Phnom Penh airport, I saved my luggage on the lost-and-found office for $four (four hours), and took a tuk-tuk experience to city ($7). Be sure to ask for a tuk-tuk ticket from the kiosk within the airport, they will cost you a flat price to anyplace in town.

Objects in mirror may be nearer than they appear
I asked the driver to drop me off around the Riverside area of PP, figured it was close enough to walk in the direction of the royal palace and pagoda.
The riverside appears to be the premier spot for tourists and foreigners alike, numerous cafes facing the shore promoting unauthentic Cambodian delicacies.

Peace bro!
Got held up by the rain for a bit, however managed to walk over and get just a few good photographs of the royal palace before heading again to the airport. They’re normally open day by day, closed just for lunch from 11AM to 2PM (lengthy lunch, I suppose)… however they did not permit visitors on at the present time because of the brand new Zealand prime minister visit.

Trying ominous with the clouds and pigeons.
Additionally acquired to see a number of monks walking across the neighborhood.

As soon as in Hanoi, I met up with my previous highschool friend, Younger (whom I have never seen in 10 years), he flew in from Seoul. A typhoon had simply handed and left the city just about soaked… awesome sign, considering we’ll be on a boat for the subsequent three days.

Stop my job at Samsung, but can’t appear to get away from them Koreans…
It’s my second time to Hanoi, and nonetheless not an enormous fan of town (it largely feels identical to every other main metropolis in SE Asia to me). It is principally a layover spot for me before going to our principal destination, Halong Bay. However I really did not thoughts the revisit. Not less than this time I’ve a nicer camera to take photos with.

Guess who’s compensating
Halong Bay

We received picked up around 8AM at our hotel to Halong Bay by the cruise operator. There are plenty of cruises to Halong Bay, starting from 1 to four day journeys, wherever from $100-$300 depending on your boat and amenities.

Tip 1: Shop around and reserve your cruise ahead of time. Most accommodations have a journey desk that can e book you a visit, but they get crammed up fast on excessive season, plus you will have a greater probability discovering a very good operator by taking a look at evaluations at journey boards (ie. Tripadvisor, Agoda, Lonely Planet, and many others).

It rained all the best way from Hanoi to Halong Bay, the bus ride was a bit rougher, had to hydroplane a couple of highway patches here and there. However we were fortunate enough that it stopped raining as quickly as we reached the harbor.

Cloudy however no rain
As a result of it takes half a day simply to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi, and because Halong Bay is so beautiful, I always guide for at the very least a 2-night keep on a Chinese language junk boat. (it’s not really stuffed with junk)

Cozy air-conditioned room wtih a helluva view.
I always prefer the medium size boats too, one that would hold have not more than 12-15 rooms. It keeps the cruise dimension small and cozy, plus you would possibly get to know your fellow travellers better.

Our boat, Glory Cruise No. 1…. or clg code stone island was it 2
I had low expectations of the meals on the boat primarily based on my previous trip.
But we were pleasantly stunned this time, not essentially the most authentically Vietnamese cuisine, however this was actually very good for our price vary.

Fresh boiled crab on the boat
A 2-nights/3-day trip is simply enough to let you take in all the fantastic thing about the bay, and do the activities with out feeling overly rushed.

Yep… not rushed in any respect.
The cruises typically would include all of your meals and excursions (kayaking, biking, caves, and so on). Ours was $167/person and it was worth every penny.

Tip 2: Bring booze. My friend had the brilliant idea of bringing a bottle of whiskey with him (he said it was to prevent food poisoning), that we ended up sharing with different people on the boat throughout our free time at night, smart way to meet and make new mates.

The cruises always have a mixture of kayaking, scenic routes, beach time, swimming, and generally biking in one of the islands or nationwide parks in the area.

Kayaking right into a lagoon.
No Coronas right here… just Hanoi and Tiger Beer

And more often than not, you’ll have an opportunity to jump off the boat and swim right on the ocean.
The ocean inside the rock formations might be so still you can nearly see reflections of the stone islands.

And the sunsets… oh man, I think they’re well worth the journey all by itself.
Picture by clg code stone island Younger Woo Park (Flickr: ywpark)

Because the boat is always constantly rocking and floating round, using a tripod and doing lengthy exposures are pretty much not possible. So don’t fret if you don’t deliver them.
I ended up doing most of my shots in ISO200 to 640, and metered at the sky. So I get a lot of pretty shots of the sun setting behind silhouettes of the islands. So long as my shutter speed isn’t any slower than 1/100sec, I can nonetheless get sharp shots.

Taken at 1/160 sec, F/4.5, ISO200
If you’re fortunate, you may get your cash shot here

Straight out of the digicam, no edit, no crop, no curve adjustments, nada…
On the final day, we had a pleasant buffet brunch on the boat, said our goodbyes to the tour leaders, and headed back to Halong Bay City harbor.

Group picture with Moon, our extremely sweet tour information in a compact package…
We got on the bus and headed back to Hanoi. The bus often reaches Hanoi around 2-3PM, and they’re going to drop you off back at your lodge. If you are flying out on the same day, ensure you ebook your tickets for the night so you’ll have sufficient time to get to the airport/train station.

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