Mountains Resting on Water
Imagine thousands of mountains rising from the water at different heights. Ha Long Bay covers more than 1,500 square kilometers in Northeastern Vietnam and is made up of thousands of islets of various shapes and sizes. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that is clearly amazing. It seems endless. Randy described it as New Zealand on water. Beneath the green trees on the limestone masses of rock are dark cool caves. We went to several different caves. The first one was very touristy. They set up green, purple and blue lights all around the cave and had a manmade walkway. On the second day of the tour, we went to caves where it seemed like hardly anyone had visited. We took a kayak to most of these and used a flashlight (or “torch,” which is what our Vietnamese tour guide called it).
The most interesting cave and area of the bay was when we kayaked through a pitch-dark cave! The water was pretty high because it’s still rainy season, so we had to be very careful not the hit our heads on the ceiling. In addition, we only had one torch. All we could hear were bats flying over our heads. But, after we got through the eerie cave, we saw the most beautiful part of Ha Long. There were no other tourists and it was a closed in bay area. We finally got to swim after kayaking all day. But, we had to be very careful because when the oysters die, their shells somehow are attached onto the side of the walls and rocks that are at the bottom of the bay. This water was deep enough so that we didn’t have to touch the rocks, but from the side the rocks were still very sharp. I recommend wearing some type of water shoes.
We also saw a floating village, which was really cool. There are four floating villages in Ha Long Bay. This one was the largest with about 500 people. About 1,000 people live in these villages. It seems like they rely on tourists and fishing to help with living expenses. They fish for squid and oysters.
Ha Long Bay is truly amazing. Unfortunately, the only way to really get there is through a tour group, which isn’t all that bad. They offer a round trip bus ticket from and to Hanoi, one or two nights on a boat, all meals and kayaking. Some tours offer rock climbing and other water sports like wake boarding. However, it depends on what kind of tour you book. Some tours are really cheap and some are really expensive. Let’s just say that you get what you pay for.