MangoVine
Adventures in East Asia

Ha Long Bay Part 1 - The Famous Cruise

Ha Long Bay, recommended by friends and recognised by UNESCO in 1994 as a World Natural Heritage site, is what we came to the north of Vietnam for.

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Ha Long Bay, which literally translates as "Descending Dragon bay", is located in the Quang Ninh province of northeastern Vietnam. The bay has a 120 kilometre long coastline and is approximately 1553 square kilometres in size, featuring thousands of limestone karsts and about 2000 isles in various sizes and shapes, some of which are named and consequently made famous.

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We arrived at the port at 10am and our guide came with us onto our boat which was one of the smaller ones docked. Although it actually seated sixteen people, it was hired just for Linh and I alone.

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Our four hour cruise takes in a visit to two of the most beautiful caves in Ha Long Bay - Thien Cung and Dau Go, and then stops at a mini fish market before taking a journey pass some of the famous islands and limestone formations. Lunch is included and this is served up just before returning to the dock back at Ha Long City. These various parts of the cruise are documented in four more subsequent posts.

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As we make our way across the water, we're able to alternate between viewing from the roof of the boat and sitting on the benches inside, to sip some bitter green tea.

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Amongst the other boats around us, some had the traditional looking sails but our guide tells us that these are now mainly for decorative purposes.

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We come across three of the most famous stone formations, with the boat passing each one in turn and our guide pointing out the best angles to view them at. The first one we see is the Stone Dog (Cho Da).

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This resembles a sitting dog quite well actually, with the waggling tail being represented effectively with a breezy growth of vegetation. I've no idea whether this formation is naturally created since its difficult to work out how its possible. But then I'm no geologist.

The second one is the Incense Burner (Lu Huong). Quite straight forward, though its a very chunky, squat bit of incense!

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Finally, its the Fighting Cocks (Ga Choi) which are the famous symbols for Ha Long Bay, used in its logo for tourism materials. Viewed at the right angle, a slight protrusion from each rock resembles beaks that appear to kiss each other. As we pass this formation, the gap between the two rocks widen to show a large gap and a pair of much more ordinary looking blocks.

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Considering its morning when we take the cruise, the weather is still warm, cooled slightly by the sea breeze but its cloudy, so we don't experience pure blue skies. Nevertheless, nothing short of a visibility-reducing fog would likely take away the appeal of the bay and its well-deserved status as a place with an outstanding aesthetic value.

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More photos of our Ha Long Bay cruise on Flickr

(Wikipedia source)


This entry posted in : Attractions. Tourism. Vietnam.

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