There’s no chance you reach Hanoi and skip Ha Long Bay. I swear to God, only an idiot would do that. Don’t be that idiot. Aside from being a UNESCO Heritage site, it’s also one of the most beautiful and peaceful places you will encounter. As generic as I make it sound, there's no going around it.
I read that it was the eighth wonder of the world but it was from a travel blogger who edited all the photographs in her blog with a millennial pink tint so excuse me if I don’t trust that to be a source (I mean, “eighth wonder”). But okay jokes aside, this rocky wonder does seem to be on the list of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World.
See I have an issue with these lists though. They change them all the time and it gets confusing. If its already been on the list before, is it ALWAYS going to be a wonder? And what if it's never been but has always been considered a wonder? Say, something like "the People's wonder". Would that qualify? 'll quit this rant with this:
When I learned the seven ancient wonders of the world in 3rd grade, the stories about them amazed me and made me dream. I'm glad that that list has not changed.
But back to Bae. The Bay. You know that song? Sail away by David Gray? If you don't, now you will. So pop that link open, play it and read on or just scroll for the photographs. I'm cool with either.
This song is what pops into my mind when I look through my photographs and videos from Ha Long Bay. Eight hours out in the bay of which six were probably spent kayaking. The result? A very bad tan. I’m not bothered about become dark (seriously, who cares about fair and lovely). But unlike fair skinned or brown skinned people who tan into a lovely golden or olive brown, I am yellow-skinned and that means I tan into dirty brown. Forget pretty, it just ain’t a good look.
Because of the risk that your camera and phones might go for a swim themselves, we were advised to leave them on the junker (boat) even though we had wet bags. So although my SLR were left behind, I decided to risk it with my phone.Full disclosure: the wet bags will protect your items but cue the laws of evaporation and condensation, you phone will get misty and damp and since your hands are wet with either water or sweat, there is little chance that you can get your fingers to work on your touch screen. So a small towel or in my case a shirt is a handy item to grab so you can dry off and take the pictures. I got lucky getting Adrian, another solo traveler, as my kayaking partner because he was as enthusiastic about stopping and taking photographs throughout the day. And it didn’t slow us down one bit! I know it’s not a competition but hey, I can’t help getting competitive. It seems to be in my nature. And I am shook about it too.
We kayaked through lagoons, stopped in coves and temporary islets for swimming and caving and cannon balled into the waters from our junker. Jumping into the water from our junker might have been a personal highlight because I am afraid of water! I feel like I have mentioned this before but while I can swim, water remains my biggest fear in life. But I had to get over that fear because there was no way I wasn’t doing this. I am pretty certain I landed on my face in my first go because I was scared to death! I mean, what if I submerged and just sink?!? And what if those giant jellyfishes with their long tentacles grab me?!? All valid fears I assure you (and me again) but none of that happened and I had never felt more alive than at that moment. It was exhilarating.
We had a wonderful chat during lunch. It was a mixed group of young and old and the conversation drifted from country to country and job to job. It was a treat to meet people who were also doing similar work as you as well as hearing tales about traveling in Colombia and Peru.
When you’re going WOW every two seconds, it can be hard to put together a piece of writing to explain that exclamation of wonder so if Ha Long Bay has been on your list as it was on mine, it will be every bit as magical and surreal as you imagine it will be.
You start out around 8 from Cat Ba Island and it is calm, misty and surprisingly quiet. Then the sun awakens and you are a spectator to a brilliant play of light and colour; possibly all the shades of blue and green. I am actually confused now about which was Ha Long and which was Lan Ha but I reckon the second half of the trip was Ha Long because Lan Ha is closer to Cat Ba.
From what I’ve read, the scenes and sights of Ha Long bay from Ha Long is different from that as which is seen from Cat Ba. So I reckon I’m going to try it out from Ha Long the next time around.
Yeah. You heard me right. I am most definitely going back for Vietnam. I’m not done yet. I mean, I’m even cool with moving there. So yeah. I dig the country. A LOT.
I’m not going to write painstaking hour to hour, conversation to conversation details so this is a short one. I soaked in all the beauty it had to offer along with the story of the Bay. Legend has it that when the dragons were called upon to protect the Vietnamese people, the emeralds from the mother dragon’s mouth were scattered in the sea forming an invisible defensive wall. These emeralds overtime turned into islands and islets of different sizes and shapes and into the Bay. Ha Long is said to mean “descending dragons”. I also couldn't stop being a creep because Antoine, our amazingly funny kayaking guide, was a dead ringer for Eden Hazard. Sooooo ... *insert shrugging girl emoji*
I may have taken a lot of pictures but let’s face it. They weren’t enough. And no matter how good the iPhone camera is, I still prefer an actual camera for the shots. So until I develop my films, these second grade phone photos that I’ve edited to adapt a film vibe will have to do.