Ha Long Bay: The Mythical Bay of Dragons

Halong Bay is an essential destination to all who venture to Vietnam. It is a mysterious body of water on the edge of the Gulf of Tolkin, studded with more than 2,000 Karst mountains stretching more than 100 miles, and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although joining a kayaking trip to the maze of jagged isles was highly recommended, as a photo enthusiast, I was just happy to take the boat excursion to see the scenery. My expectations were quite high after hearing other travelers raved about the scenery and having seen Halong Bay featured in movies. It was beautiful indeed.

For a moment, I forgot that Halong Bay was a popular tourist destination for our boat seemed to be the only one floating in the bay. Then our guide announced that we had set off from an alternate boating route to avoid other boat excursions and cruises.

An amazing layered scene was set out before me, with rock formations rising out of the emerald water, and in the distance just behind the karst mountains, outcroppings of various shapes and sizes were stripped of colors and left in monochromatic silhouette.

The Kissing Rocks
Approaching Cat Ba Island, the gap in the natural landscape was filled with interesting objects like the local fisherman’s boats.

At first, I was disappointed that the sun did not come out during the first three hours of our boating excursion. Then it occurred to me that perhaps it was part of the beauty of Halong Bay. The absence of bright sunlight and the occasional break in the clouds, left the area in the monochromatic state, deepening the great mysteries, and awakens the spirit of wonder.

Thiên Cung Cave

I explored Thiên Cung Cave, a recently discovered grotto not far from the Halong City wharf. I climbed more than 100 narrow steps to explore the whole grotto that was covered by thick forest from the outside. As I entered the cave, I noticed the bright colors more than the stalactite formations. It was like stepping into a fine art museum. It was beautiful. Perhaps the strobe lights were intended to highlight the stalactite formations, but I was expecting a more natural setting like the Jenolan Cave I visited in Australia. I'm not sure if I was disappointed or not.

Sunset in Halong Bay.

These pictures were taken the day before the boat excursion. We arrived in Halong City at sunset, so I immediately went to the Hotel rooftop to take these pictures.

yellow-pink sunset

Note:  All photos by the author



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