I imagine God was thinking of paradise when he created Halong Bay. I have yearned to visit for so long that I was afraid reality would disappoint. On the contrary, even on a misty day the beauty of the bay is overwhelming.
Halong (Mouth of the dragon) mythologically was created by baby dragons spitting fire in a heroic war. Limestone mountains, pillars and hills rose out of dragon fire and dotted the water in over 1200 formations. Massive caves with stalactites and stalagmites, scalloped ceilings, fantastic formations that fantasies are made of rise out of the water.
We visited Surprise cave discovered by fishermen years ago and climbed high up the hill to walk a mile through the mountainside. And that is just the explored part. Imagination allows the eye to see unicorns and dragons, happy Buddhas and a Madonna with child. If you want to see a parallel you do!
The water is a unique jade from limestone and other mineral deposits. It is mesmerizing and soothes the mind as waves lap along the rocky shore.
Like every other visitor to Halong Bay we stayed on a houseboat. They all look rather dilapidated from the outside, and Garden Bay 1 was no exception. However luxury awaited us and fresh fish off the floating fish farms around the bay was delicious.
Leaving Halong Bay was difficult but I will always treasure memories of this magical place where the local supermarket is a heavily laden boat and every turn provides another breathtaking view.
We arrived in Hoi An tonight and the charming old town on the river revived a weary traveler with its lantern stalls, open air restaurants and delicious food. The Anantara on the river is a welcome refuge with its courtyards and ponds.
Adios till next time!!