It’s a good thing we ran out and got dinner last night when we got off of the plane, because today begins with an 8am pickup at our hotel. We’re heading out for an overnight cruise in Halong Bay. Made up of around 2,000 small limestone mountains, Halong Bay has a long history in the Vietnamese culture. There is evidence of civilizations living in the bay as far back as 18,000 BC, and it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site twice. The mountains and caves also played a role in the Vietnam War.
Translated literally as “Descending Dragon Bay”, the folklore surrounding the bay is rich. The formation of the bay is said to be caused by dragons breathing fire and jewels onto incoming enemy boats during a great battle. This would become a permanent barrier for all countries attacking Vietnam by way of sea. Whatever the cause, the mountains have evolved over 2 million years to become a thing of beauty. And you’ll see that it isn’t that tough to navigate. There were more than a few boats on the same tour with us!
Upon exiting the tour bus we were loaded onto a small boat to take us out to what would be our home for the night. Basically all of the boats look the same. So while these aren’t the boat we would stay on, they are exactly the same.
It’s not long before you get into the bay and start seeing these amazing little mountains everywhere.
The locals are in the bay too. There are many fishing boats pulling in fish, squid, and mollusks.
We would pretty quickly find out that the “cruise” was more of a tour than a cruise, which is exactly what we wanted. It was a pretty tight schedule that would become a running joke among the passengers. First stop, a hike to the top of Ti Top Island. See all of those boats? You can imagine how many people made the same hike.
The views were still beautiful, even surrounded by other tourists shoving each other to get their photo.
I think this is another of those funny “before and after” examples. Above is where I stood to get the shot below. You can see it isn’t all that peaceful or serene. In fact, it’s absolutely littered with people swimming, playing, and running on the beach.
When you’re on a boat, what else do you do but get into a smaller boat? We stopped for kayaking and swimming. Cat and I wouldn’t swim. The water was cold and very salty. But the kayaking was fun.
There are oyster fishermen (in both cases here women) near the kayaks, so we rowed over to check them out.
Cat insisted I get a photo of her dog. I’m glad I did. Look at that majestic little guy!
Here you see a women planting baby oysters on a string. These will grow to become the oysters we all love to eat.
Soon they’ll be ready to eat.
After the kayak we caught a pretty nice sunset, cleaned up a bit, and had dinner on the big boat.
After dinner was squid fishing. While we didn’t see any squid, Cat did catch this jellyfish. We also saw small schools of fish, a flying fish, and a couple of feather starfish. Not a terrible experience. And we got to try HaLong Beer, which was pretty delicious.
One more half day on the boat tomorrow. If you’re coming to the north of Vietnam, I would definitely recommend taking the Halong Bay Tour.