There are many reasons for my inclination towards certain countries and their natural landforms would take up bulk of this decision-making.
I didn't get to go to Halong Bay when I went to Ho Chi Minh with Harrison earlier the same year, so obviously, it was going on my to-do-list this backpacking trip when I am up in the North.
I was expecting to be blown away (maybe literally also) by the postcard-replicated scenery I would get at Halong Bay; it was everything but that. Tips for all travellers: there is no such thing as 'higher' class boats with better beddings and greater variety of food. It was precisely because of this marketing gimmick (read: cheating tourists) that further worsened my mood at Halong Bay. Well, I paid 35USD for one night stay in Halong Bay and imagine being thrown into the same boat as unhappy travellers who paid 95USD and receiving the same treatment as us. Not the best way to start our 2days1night stay together. Who I actually pitied was not Ping and myself getting questioned as if we were on some FBI speed boat but the coordinator that has no relations with the companies that conned these people.
Anyway, like most travels, my experience at Halong Bay was not made by the picturesque sight of the landforms but the international friends we made and stuck together like family members instantly.
Everyone was so lovely in their own way and writing about it now just brought back all the feels and memories.
We were initially placed at the boat beside ours, the 'party boat' we called it. But I didn't mind this change because we indulged and exchanged our travelling experiences on this boat. But bummer, I missed sunrise the next morning.
I was about to go on ranting about the predicament we were in then when the temperature dipped at night, but let's just take it to mind that the boat crew was already doing their best to stifle everyone's angst and annoyance when the water heater failed.
The next morning, I learned that the heater and heated water were privileges not complimentary, forked out by the crew themselves to appease year-end travellers. And all of these good will in the name of: love for people. At that point of time, I felt nothing but guilt for being such a whining city brat, waking them up to fix my heater for me.
Halong Bay, you're one location I would never return to but thank you for the experiences and friendship forged within a night; that took up pages on my personal travel log.