March 30th & 31st ~ Ha Long Bay (Halong Bay), Vietnam
In real-time, we are now nestled back in Southern California, enjoying our time with our son and his girlfriend for a few days before heading up to our tiny mountain cabin retreat. But I have several days worth of pictures and information to still share from our time in SE Asia.
I’ll pick up from our time in Hue, where Tim got terribly ill with MSG poisoning. It was a very harsh almost 36 hours for him. One of the worst bouts I have ever seen him go through. But thankfully, after a full day of rest, getting him a solid meal, and some sleep he felt good enough to continue our journey.
The 30th was spent traveling from Hue to Ha Long Bay. Most of the day simply on a bus watching the rice fields pass by. I know there are many that prefer to fly from Point A to Point B, but seeing the country side is a welcome part of our travels for me.
Side note: The Vietnamese separate each syllable into a separate word. For example Ha Long, where we often write it as Halong, or Ha Noi vs Hanoi or Da Nang vs Danang.
I enjoy relaxing, occasionally reading or snoozing. But mainly I relish simply looking out the window and observing the smaller towns, houses, roadside stands, traffic, animals, crops being grown, people, modes of transportation, the occasional monument, church, temple or whatever.
The only notable stop on the 30th was at an artisan shop that was primarily utilizing handicapped people. The pictures created with silk thread needle craft were quite remarkable. There was one piece in particular I would have loved to purchase if I had the appropriate place to show it off, but $2000 and concern about how to get it home deterred me.
That brings us to the 31st and our much-anticipated day in Ha Long Bay. It seems that just about every article I have read, or documentary I have watched or blog post I have scanned has raved about the beauty of Ha Long Bay and her 1969 islands, and I could not wait to see it with my own eyes.
“Hạ Long Bay (Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long, literally: “descending dragon bay”) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam…The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. ~ Wikipedia
Most often, the pictures show bright blue skies, huge monolithic stone structures popping out of the ocean, brilliant reflections in the water.
Mother Nature had other ideas of how we should experience this day…
A slight drizzle and fog welcomed us as we boarded the boat we would explore the bay on for the next five hours.
The day turned out to be quite different from what I had dreamed of, but wonderful none-the-less. Of course I had hoped for a beautiful sunny day to capture that “oh so special” shot, but experiencing the foggy, almost ghostly version instead was still a treat.
We even had a stop along the way to do a bit of cave exploring. Thien Cung Grotto, which means “heavenly palace”, was highlighted with colorful lights throughout.
There was one spot where sunlight broke through that produced an unearthly glow.
Our final stop and shop opportunity was at a pearl factory. I was getting a little weary of the visits to showrooms, but the information shared prior to the soft pitch was still welcomed. We had noticed the many wooden stakes in the water along the way where the oysters were growing their precious treasures.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that a long-time dream was realized in visiting Halong Bay. Was it everything I had hoped it would be? Yes and no. Would I have been happier with more sunshine? Possibly, but the reality is that we still had an amazing day and got to see a version of the islands that not as many get to see.