Halong Bay is an area of about 600 square miles. It contains almost 2000 limestone spires that have been formed and reshaped over FIVE HUNDRED MILLION Years. The local “karsts” have been shaped over the past 20 million years (only) by various geological shifts, earthquakes, and a tropical, wet climate. Most of these monoliths are covered with a tropical blanket of trees and undergrowth.
Of course there is an alternative explanation for its formation…The name “Halong” means descending dragon. Legend has it that a family of dragons descended from Heaven to help the Viet people defend against invaders (Chinese). They spit out jewels and jade that formed the islands. The islands then formed a wall that made the lead invader ships run aground. After safety for the people was assured, the dragons looked around, but decided to settle in the Bay.
We cruised Pahang Nga Bay, north of Phuket, which has similar limestone monoliths. But this gift from nature ( or dragons) is so much more extensive. We cruised slowly through the channels. Despite the evidence of human settlement going back about 3000 years, only one island is currently inhabited…by a village of fishermen.
It is difficult to describe just how beautiful Halong Bay is, so I took a video:
So our cruise wound down, and we left this:
And entered this:
I felt like we went through a portal in The Twilight Zone. This can’t be the Communist State of Vietnam?!!! But it is…A wonderful merger of Socialism and Capitalism. A country with no terrorism, no serious crime, no need to protect yourself from your countrymen,… What it does have is lots and lots of foreign investment, incredibly curious and friendly people, and two scooters per household. I loved spending time here, and came away feeling like they have figured a lot of things out. I’ll have more to say about this when I write about Hanoi. Til then…