Although we had seen lots of photos of Halong Bay before this trip, we were blown away. The seascape is awe inspiring and we felt special and lucky to be there. It even made Nick want to sing like Doris Day!!
From the moment we set sail we were there, the islands were all around us. From a distance you would think you were looking at a mountain range but what it really is, is tall islands as far as you can see all the way to the horizon.
Needless to say I was totally taken aback by the view and the camera was running hot in my hands, I must have taken at least 100 shots in the first five minutes, which means lots of editing later on. I thought back to the old-day cameras that needed film and felt really satisfied with our little Samsung. It has more processing power and functions than used on the first mission to the moon (a great comparison which is so over-used regardless if it’s true or not). It even has wifi, am sure Neil Armstrong didn’t have wifi.
From Hanoi we had booked a three day two night tour of Halong Bay. Like most people visiting Vietnam we heard of the bay with many islands and which everyone says is a must. Same with Sapa, which is located in the mountains. We wanted to arrange one small trip, so we looked at the weather forecast and picked 3 days that were sunny in Halong Bay. The rest was wet, wet, wet. Sapa was all wet.
The boat was lovely, our room was nice and the en-suite had a porthole. I love portholes – they give me such a nice feeling of openness with fresh air coming through and the sea whooshing by, it’s just nice. Like in the old movies with US sailors and possibly Doris Day I want to break into song with my head sticking out of the porthole.
We cruised past island after island, some as small as a large house, some as tall as a mountain but they all shared the same rocky limestone appearance. Despite the rock they had a healthy cover of tropical vegetation feeding off the water and the little soil trapped between cracks.
We took way too many photos trying to capture the beauty of the different island formations and the changing light. None of them come close to showing how majestic a sight these island really are so if you want to know, you’ll have to visit…
We were travelling as part of a group with just over 20 people from Europe, the US, Canada and South Korea. With our fellow travellers we visited one of the larger islands for a swim and to climb to the top.
We also got off our boat for a quick tour to see the largest floating village however it seemed to be more of a showcase as most of the residents were relocated to the mainland last year to preserve the area and keep it clean. The residents that are left earn a living from fishing or tourism.
Everybody bonded during these activities and we enjoyed a few drinks on the deck before going to bed. We had chosen to stay 2 nights onboard but everybody else had only booked for one night so next morning the Legend started making its way back to shore while we were transferred to another boat that was to takes us sight seeing for the day. Our day boat was almost as big as the main one and Malene and I were the only two people on it, how lucky were we!! We had our own boat for the day, to cruise the islands, stop where we wanted and swim and kayak for as long as we felt like. The sun was out and we had a great day.
Halong Bay is known for its mist and drizzle which adds a a sense of mystery but we were lucky to get plenty of clear weather too.
We asked our guide how the islands came to be. Are they mountain tops and how were they formed? Instead she told us the legend of ‘descending dragon’ (the meaning of Ha Long in Vietnamese) when Mother Dragon and her dragon children helped to fight off early invaders with divine fire and an invincible wall of giant emeralds that over time have turned into the small islands. Looking at this photo you can imagine how this legend started.
And when we came back to Hanoi our apartment felt a bit like home…