Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Night Under the stars on Halong Bay

Today was a once in a lifetime experience. At 8:00am we boarded a bus to the world heritage site: Halong Bay

This massive bay contains 1969 separate little islands that are made of limestone jutting out from the water. It’s truly a breathtaking site as you enter the bay. I tried so hard to capture the experience on film, but failed. Some of the shots turned out ok though 😁

We toured around the bay for a couple hours before making a couple stops. First up: Hang Sung Sot caves.  In many of the limestone islands, massive caves have formed over millions of years.  My expectations for the caves were kind of low. I’ve seencaves in the past and figured it would be a similar experience. My predictions was way off, though. The caves on the island we went to were comprised of three separate rooms - each one larger than the previous. By the third room I was in awe of the rock formations around me. It felt as thought I had teleported to mars or some other distant uncharted planet.  Vietnam, being a deeply cultural country, caused many legends to be created around some of the rocks in these caves.  They believe the shapes of their four most important animals can be found throughout. The animals they honor are the dragon, turtle, phoenix, and unicorn. See if you can use your imagination o spot the animals within the rocks!

Our second adventure on Halong Bay was a beach trip and/or hike. I opted for the beach because of the heat - couldn’t handle more hiking after going through the caves. The beach itsself was actually pretty small and not that great, but the island it was located on was certainly interesting. The island, which is known as Ti Top island, was named after a former Soviet war hero, Ghermann Titov, from WWII. Just another subtle reminder that I am a long way from home. 

One of the best parts of our time in Halong Bay is that we get to sleep on the bay!  The boat we are on is a three storied junk boat with cabins on the first floor, a dining area on the second, and sundeck up top. It’s surprisingly nice - and my tour group has the entire boat to ourselves!  There is even a floating mini mart - this woman rides around in her boat and pulls up to the port hole window in your room to let you buy snacks or drinks. She has a net with a long handle to pass the snacks and money back and forth to the bigger boats. 

Oh, and for the record I went way outside my comfort zone and ate an oyster today 😖 

Ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it’s certainly not a favorite. Overall the food has been quite nice on our bay cruise. The chef goes all out with the decoration!

The prawn were surprisingly good - caught right from the bay around us!

This is a net made from a single carrot!!

Tomorrow we spend some more time touring the bay in the morning and then head off to our next city via sleeper train 😬  Another new life experience!

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