Friday, August 29, 2014
By Jennie Mckie
One of the most famous areas in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay situated in the North East of Vietnam 4 hours away from Hanoi. All around Hanoi you will find loads of different Halong bay tours which will take you around the area.
We were picked up early in the morning and driven to Ha Long Bay to board our boat and where we would be sleeping that night. Straight away you could see the famous limestone cliffs every way you turned however once we set sail the sheer size of them was incredible! Our guide explained that Ha Long actually means ‘descending dragon’ and legends told of how the dragons protected the country from invasion until they finally laid to rest in the sea and the jagged cliffs you see are actually the dragons that had fallen down!
Ha Long Bay consists of 1969 islands and the scale of it was way bigger than I first thought! The pictures do not do the place justice and it’s hard to explain just how beautiful the scenery is. We had lunch on board the boat of chicken, spring rolls and seafood all while watching the beautiful scenery pass us by!
We stopped off at Sung Sot Cave one of the ‘most beautiful’ caves in the area and also known as the “cave to heaven” or “surprising cave”, it was only discovered in 1993 by a fisherman and not opened to tourists until 1998. The caves reminded me of the Nigili Caves in Australia but with much higher ceilings!
It was lit up in all different coloured lights and the effects were staggering! We walked through as our guide pointed out all the rock formations in the shape of all different animals and people such as the dolphin, the lion, dragon, Buddha and our favourite… the giant boob! Some of these require a LOT of imagination but it makes you think about the first people down the caves who would have been down here before all the lights and must have seen all the rocks like ‘WAA there is a lion!!!’ Half way round the cave we reached the point where the fisherman first came through to find the cave and where the cave gets its nickname as high up there is an opening, and when the sun shines it sends a beam of light down into the cave as though it is coming from heaven.
My favourite area of the cave was ‘Romeo and Juliet’, again you need an imagination for this however as you look into the rock the shadow looks like a man (all be it a man with a beer gut!!) and he is looking up to another shadow that looks like a girl. It is quite sweet despite ‘Juliet’ looking in the opposite direction! The caves are ridiculously humid and everyone in our group had sweat pouring down their face by the end!
We got back onto our boat and headed off for our next area. We stopped at a tiny floating village and started our kayaking Halong trip, taking them out to explore the area around Luon Cave.
Kayaking around going under the massive cliffs it really does feel like you are in some sort of dream or movie. It is exactly like scene in Avatar where they fly through the floating cliffs except that obviously the cliffs are in the water!! We kayaked around the area for about an hour in what was literally breathtaking scenery, heading back to the boat we took our kayak around the village with tiny kids shouting hello and guard dogs barking away. The dogs are there to protect the fish farms and the whole thing seemed so weird as the closest land to village is about 2 hours away by boat!!
Setting sail again we had time to chill out on the deck of the boat, lying on sun loungers as giant cliffs sailed past us. Dinner was on the boat where we made our own fresh spring rolls and had amazing fish and honey chicken all while listening to what I think must have been a 90s power ballad CD including some Titanic classics! It was a hectic day and after dinner Andy and I decided to head to our room on the boat and get showered and changed for bed ready for day two on the majestic Ha Long Bay…