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Exploring Ha Long Bay (Vietnam) for a Day with Star Cruises SuperStar Virgo

12:23:00 AM Phantasm Darkstar 0 Comment(s)

Cruising with Star Cruises' SuperStar Virgo has brought us to Ha Long Bay, Vietnam this time. (See: Star Cruises: SuperStar Virgo)

Being part of the Philippine Media Group, they already prepared an excursion trip for us. You can avail any of these trips online or inside the ship.
Before getting all excited, make sure that you have your Vietnamese currency ready a.k.a. Vietnamese Dong. I exchanged a few bucks on board the night before our excursion and got me a million Dong already. Finally! I'm a millionaire. Lol.
The day has come. Apparently, it's drizzling and it's cold. This is the view from our balcony.  
Reminders and Immigration card.  
Our busses are ready and waiting for us. 
Sad it's raining outside, though. 
Inside the bus, we have a local tour guide. I forgot his name but he's really friendly and taught us some Vietnamese words which may come in handy. He also gave us tips once we go shopping.

We first visited the local market. This is normally a night market but they opened in the morning for us, guests from Star Cruises. Here you'll find souvenirs, bags, shoes, clothing, and some local products. You'll also find imitations of some popular brands like Louis Vuitton. It's like the Greenhills of Ha Long Bay. Don't forget to haggle!  
Found on the second floor of the local market are the food products. I was able to haggle for a kilogram of their coffee for around 600 Php. The aroma is great, and the ones I bought was also of good quality. They can grind the beans for you and divide them as you wish. They are not quite good in English but I was lucky enough to find a guy there who helped me translate my request with the vendor. 

Our next stop is the Panorama Restaurant in Saigon Halong Hotel. It's called Panorama for a reason--the place gives you a panoramic view of Ha Long Bay. I love the ambiance of this place. While dining, they are also playing music which gives you that "I'm definitely in Vietnam" feel. I don't know what instrument the lady is playing in the photo. Please let me know what this is. Hehe... 
The Menu. Oops! No English. I'm glad they preordered for us already. Don't worry, though, I made my research for this blog post so you know which dish is which. *wink* 
Vietnam's 7Up! Cool. Let's head on to what we had: 
Nem Hai San. Crispy Spring Rolls. I love Vietnamese spring rolls. I'm glad I finally had one in Vietnam. Though, these ones are fried. I'm still looking forward to trying the fresh ones.  
Tom Nurong Muoi Ot. Black Tiger Shrimp. Thank goodness the menu wasn't all vegetables. Hehe. 
Pho Ga. Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. Authentic Pho. Oh, yes! Yes! Finally able to try this one. It's light and tastes good. It's calming to eat and it's perfect for their cold weather. The one that we had has chicken in it. I learned from our tour guide that sometimes they put dog meat or cat meat in it. Yikes! So you gotta make sure you know what meat you are having.  
Thit Kho Nuoc Dua. Stewed Meat in Coconut Water. I did not notice that this was cooked in coconut water. It's quite similar to our adobo. 
Ca Chien Sot Chanh. Fried Fish. Also good.  
Cha Muc Ha Long. Dipped Squid. A Ha Long specialty. Yum. 
Rau Xao Theo Mua. Seasoned Boiled Vegetables. Didn't expect that this one is actually our favorite dish on the table (aside from the Pho).  
Canh Hai Sam. Sea Cucumber Soup. Light with mushrooms. Also nutritious.  
Ga On Nam. Braised Chicken with Mushroom. This is like their Vietnamese version of chicken adobo. Also good. Here, they cook it with mushrooms. It's also nutritious. I guess I now know why Vietnamese people are slim. They eat healthily.

Our next stop is their mall. We roamed around for a bit, but we were not able to shop. Known brands are more expensive which are also available in the Philippines.

We tried out Nam Phong Coffee, which looks like Starbucks (but obviously isn't). 
This was my order. A large coffee latte. Yes, this is large. And no, I haven't touched it yet. I'm quite disappointed here. Why would they produce cups this size if they didn't even fill it up? Geez. Also not sure if they are just doing this to foreigners. 

Our last itinerary is the boat ride. The boat toured us around Ha Long Bay before it brings us back to our ship. Inside, they also sell some souvenirs and drinks. 

This is the view from our boat. 

Group picture at the top deck. Special thanks to Lynch Imbat, Alex Pastor and Jerome Ravelo for making this possible for us. 

Also bought this oil that has therapeutic effects. It's like their version of Efficascent Oil. Lol. Free massage when you buy. It feels good. Hehe. Bought some for my relatives, too.

Back at the ship. Ha Long Bay's amazing. Looking forward to going back to Vietnam for a longer trip. 
Outtakes
Selfies. Love their cold weather. 
Groupie with BFFs, Mark of Eatsplorations.com, Bettina of BettinaBacani.com, and Richie or Pickiesteater.net 
With our KTG friend, Jeman of Orangemagazine.ph photobombing behind me and Bettina.  
Selfie at the balcony of the Panorama restaurant. 

Thank you so much, Star Cruises for an amazing experience!

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