Being in the navy I was able to see many facets of the magnificent sea. Through passage of time I was able to observe and be a part of the nature’s creations- mesmerizing beaches, sea fronts, harbours, islands, lagoons and never ending stretches of different and varying coastline. But, nothing had prepared me to absorb one of nature’s wonders – breathtaking ‘Ha Long Bay’ located in the Gulf of Tonkin which is 165 km from the capital Ha Noi.
Halong Bay features hundreds of limestone karsts and islands. Karsts are gigantic lime stone formations jutting out from the sea in various sizes and shapes. The bay has a 120 km long coastline and is approximately 1,553 square km in size with 1969 islets. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves, while others support floating villages of fishermen.
In 1994, the core zone of Hạ Long Bay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
No amount of writing can bring out the beauty of these formations, majestically jutting out from the blue sea into the open sky. The bay along with Sung Sot cave is a rare visual experience one should plan to see in their life time. A long and steep climb takes you into the hallow of the Karsts. The narrow and winding path suddenly breaks into a cave of unimaginable proportions. Call it what you may – nature’s grand theater, art house or museum, it holds one and all in instant captivity.
From Ha Noi it’s a four hour drive to the bay. En route the tapestry gradually changes from low lying paddy fields to hilly green. On reaching the bay you embark one the many boats for an extremely eventful day and night cruise along the coast. The boats are very well appointed with good cabins and private sit outs to enjoy the view. Variety of Vietnamese cuisine enthralls the guests along with an amazing cooking demonstration.
The only downside to this tour was paucity of time. This being a package, I found too many activities were rolled together. I would have preferred a slow and evenly spaced unfolding of events giving us more time to sit in the open deck, sip beer and enjoy the nature’s bounties.
If I were to go again I would try to get a customized two nights cruise.
Until then ‘Chill Madi”
|Our abode for one night|
|View of the harbour|
|A boat cruising along|
|A lonely island|
|A group of islands|
|The extent of the lime formation|
|Odd shapes and size|
|Entrance into the cave|
|Sushuma and Jai after a steep climb|
|View from the top|
|A group of boats tied together|
|A local trader|
|Opening to the cave|
|It takes different shapes|
|Yet another view|
|See the size of the cave in comparison to the visitor at the rear|
|The depth is mind blogging|
|The idol like formation in the centre attributed to image of 'Lord Ganapati"|
|Fish cutlets with carrot decoration|
|With a Norwegian tourist|
|With her boy friend|
|Sushama and Jai Kayaking|
|Early morning view|
|Remarkable food decoration demonstration|
|Anoushka and Sushama enjoying the moment|
|Private yacht may be next time|