Thursday, December 26, 2019

Journey to Halong Bay, Vietnam

It was one crisp morning when we left the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Aboard the bus, everyone has a hard time to hide their excitement. For the next four hours, we journeyed our way to the northeast part of Vietnam and explored the wonders of the emerald waters of Halong Bay.

Legend says that not too long ago, Vietnam was under war, and they had to ward off the invaders. To help the fighters, the gods sent the dragons. The dragons, possessing some magical powers, began spitting out jewels and jade. These precious stones then became islands and islets, linking with one another to form a wall of defense against the invaders. Several rocky mountains suddenly sprung underneath the emerald sea, causing the invader's ships to sink. The dragons decided to dwell on our world after winning the battle. The mother dragon was later named as Ha Long.

As the city withered away, the rolling hills came into view. The Vietnamese countryside reminds me of home. Houses were built right beside the vast rice paddies. At half-past eleven, we have finally arrived at the bay. The weather was perfect when we were there. It was sunny yet cold at 15 degrees Celsius.

We boarded one of the traditional junk boats that were perfectly lined up at the pier, waiting for tourists. My mom, who's a second-time visitor here, told us that tourists weren't as many compared to the time when she went there last February 2018. It was a very good day as we sailed across the Halong Bay. The blue sky touches the emerald waters of the bay, with limestones as if jutting out from the sea and trying to reach the infinite blue of the sky. With waves as still as a statue, the gentle wind billowed the sails, and the deck warmed in the afternoon light.

A few activities include kayaking and a never-ending photoshoot at the upper deck of the junk boat. Of course, we chose the latter for obvious reasons. Although, I was a bit lowkey regretting of not trying the kayaking activity. But who knows, it'll be one of the reasons why I should go back here, and probably try the overnight stay here.

The main attraction here is the cave systems. Five hundred million years ago, Halong Bay was once part of a prehistoric deep sea. As the tectonic plates pushed the ocean floor, limestones began to form until to what it is today–hollow caves and limestone rocks scattered on Halong Bay like pearls that were thrown to an open sea. Inside the cave is a vast cavern filled with stalagmites and stalactites that elicits creativity to a human mind. Some figures look like lovers, while others are animals or even Greek gods and goddesses. Not to mention that the cave was well-lit, making it easy to take photos and videos once inside. We were in awe, of course, even if we have so many caves in our home country.

The bus trip back to Hanoi was different. As the sun sank beneath the horizon, casting an orange and velvet hue like a burning ember, I couldn't help but smile what had transpired throughout that day. What seemed to be an ordinary sunny day at Halong Bay became extraordinary, all thanks to my travel buddies. I am grateful to have them on this trip as they made it extra special and memorable.

This trip is one for the books.

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