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Monday, October 10, 2011

Magical Halong Bay

Our destination may still be a few hours away but I’m already tingling with anticipation for a night on Vietnam’s mythical Halong Bay.
The karsts (limestone pillars) that jut out from the waters of the bay may date back nearly 500 million years, but the myth attached to them arose in the past two millennium. The Vietnamese believe a dragon and his brethren were sent to earth to aid the Vietnamese in repelling invaders from the north. As the dragons descended, they spit out jewels and jade which – upon hitting the water – turned into the rock formations so prevalent today.

It’s obvious that Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s busiest tourist destinations from the moment we pull up to the port. The quays are a mess of tour groups, junks, trawlers and boat vendors, the beauty of the bay barely visible through the haze. But once on our ship, we glide away from the cacophony and out into the karsts dotted landscape.


Most boats follow a predictable circuit – a visit to a fishing village on stilts, a stop at Surprise Cave perched high above the water, and a chance to kayak the turquoise waters. Other boats are always near but, in one of those blesses cases of traveler’s blindness, I suddenly cease to see them. They become part of the scenery as I stare in wonder at the panorama from the mouth of LinkSurprise Cave; they become delicate silhouettes as the sun sinks behind the horizon, bathing us all in its fiery farewell. My kayak cuts through them as I paddle towards shore but I’m too entranced by the rest of the scene.

Cruising on Halong Bay

I’m lucky to spend the night on the bay, waking to the sunrise and the graceful movements of tai chi on the upper deck of our boat. As the sun climbs higher in the cloud-flecked sky, we leave the “crowds” behind and circle quiet karsts islands in a part of the bay seemingly untouched by day trippers. Eventually, our boat heads once again for shore and civilization and we brave the long dusty ride back to Hanoi. But that night and for many to come, I fall asleep imagining the roll of the sea as it caresses our ship in a starry bay.

  • Visited :September 2011
  • Source : asiainsider.asia360travel

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