Sunday, October 7, 2012

Vietnam, Halong Bay


097We arrive in Halong Bay to join hundreds of others about to embark on an adventure similar to ours.

Besides doing just a day trip, there are tours available that allow you to spend overnight trips in Halong Bay.



I imagine seeing a sunset or sunrise here would be magnificent. With our tickets purchased by our tour guide we begin the boarding process on a house type boat that will take us through the bay for the next few hours.

Our first order of business is find an available table for five and “a bathtub I can play baseball in.” At first this causes a bit of confusion as others have the same idea and the tables seem to already have some prearranged order.

We are given brief information about our sailing itinerary and the lunch that will be offered which raises an important question. “Is there beer?”



016Halong Bay



With all the formalities out of the way, we migrate to the upper deck of the ship for views of Halong Bay under partly cloudy skies.

Even so the scenery with huge rock formations sticking up out of the water is impressive.

Legend has it that these rocks were spewed here from heaven by a fiery dragon. Not to difficult to imagine that being the case as there is something alien about these formations.


013Coal mining is done in this area of Vietnam and coal is exported to other regions of the country from here.

We pass a few coal laden ships and other vessels with some unique putt, putt, putt engine sounds.



The sun is beginning to break through the cloudy skies and the area becomes even more splendid as we make our way to our lunch stop.



102Shrimp For Lunch


It turns out to be unfair to call our dining option lunch. It is a feast and yes, there is beer available for a small price. From tofu to chicken, shrimp, rice, spring rolls and even a whole grilled fish.

As Ben put it, “You can't beat it.”

Our lunch time gives a chance to learn more about our new found friends from Minnesota. The most fascinating thing being that one of them grew up in Laos. However, she left there in the middle of the night during a civil war and immigrated with her parents to the United States.

Today, she has a successful law practice in the Twin Cities. A story that shows what hard work and taking advantage of the right opportunities can produce. A story that is inspirational.



020As we have lunch we bargain through a window with one of the many boat vendors that approach us. Our attempts at bargaining causes a bit of a rift between the vendors.

Apparently a turf war.



The lady we are dealing with is not too happy about a poacher and gives her an almost non stop piece of her mind even dropping the “F-Bomb” a few times. We over pay her for a few pineapples and somewhat enjoy the extra entertainment.




026The Symbol Of Halong Bay


In a while we are sailing again this time towards the symbol of Halong Bay. Known by many names we are looking at the “Kissing Rock”, “Kissing Chicken”, “Hand and Cock” or a favorite “The Fighting Cock”.

A bit of history is behind all of the names with the most interesting being that in Vietnam the hand is bigger than the cock.


036Beyond the multi-named symbol of Halong Bay our next stop is at an important site here.

Dong Thien Cung, Heaven Cave.






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