After we got back to our junk boat from our kayaking excursion and a visit to the island, we spent the rest of the afternoon resting. Our tour guide Smiley only told us to be ready for dinner by 7 pm.
At 7 pm, it’s already dark outside, and it looked like we’re the only junk boat that remained moored near the island. The other boats that also came to visit during the afternoon had left. It was pitch dark outside, except in the distance we could see some lights from the island. After gathering all of the passengers, Smiley asked us to board the tender to head towards the island for dinner. What was mentioned in the itinerary for the trip was a ‘BBQ dinner at the island.’ There was not much detail beyond that to describe what it would be. I suppose it was meant to be somewhat a surprise.
After arriving at the island, we followed the illuminated path up towards the cave. Some of the guests had already visited the cave in the afternoon. We didn’t go then because we were barefooted after kayaking and didn’t want to go up on what looked like a rocky path into a possibly dark cave and possibly hurt our feet.
The experience visiting a cave is always interesting. I think it’s because you’re going into an environment that is completely different than what we’re used to, and it sparks imagination about what might be inside the dark and potentially confined space. Many of the rocky islands in Ha Long Bay were hollow inside, and some were large enough that people could visit. There are some of the islands that were well-known enough and open to public that most Ha Long Bay cruise experience include a visit to one of these caves.
In our case, along with the idea of going to the ‘off the beaten path’ away from other tourists, the Indochina Junk Company took a different approach in providing such experience. Smiley told us that they found the private island with the cave and purchased it from its previous ‘owner’; it was home for a fisherman for years. Apparently in addition to those who live in the floating villages in the Bay, there were others who inhabited some of the hundreds of rocky islands in Ha Long Bay. I thought that must be an interesting experience to live in such a natural shelter; I suppose that’s what people did before the advent of technology for constructing homes like what we have today.
As we walked into the cave, we got to see some of the interesting stalagmite and stalactite formations that lined up the cave walls. They had done a good job placing lightings to illuminate the interesting formations. The one on the photo below looked like a giant jellyfish.