Ha Long Bay (Halong Bay) – Much anticipated, surreal, ephemeral, gray

March 30th & 31st ~ Ha Long Bay (Halong Bay), Vietnam

Gus at Halong Bay

Gus at Halong Bay

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 had a dear reader mention that she was not able to view some of the photos we share in a slide show version because she did not have JavaScript enabled on her computer or iPad. I wanted to include this link for her and any others who might have a similar situation so that you can see them. To enable JavaScript on your device, just click here for simple step-by-step instructions.

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.

Tending to the crops

Tending to the crops

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.

Just more of the scenery passing by

Just more of the scenery passing by

Carrying quite a load

Carrying quite a load

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.

Lousy picture, but hopefully it will give you an idea of the incredible detail all done in silk threads

Lousy photo, but hopefully it will give you an idea of the incredible detail all done in silk threads

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.

Row upon row of boats waiting to take tourist out into the bay

Row upon row of boats waiting to take tourist out into the bay

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.

DSC08010-001

Panorama of Ha Long Bay

Through the mist

Through the mist

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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.

Thien Cung Grotto

Thien Cung Grotto

There was one spot where sunlight broke through that produced an unearthly glow.

Sunlight shining through

Sunlight shining through

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.

Oysters growing in the bay

Oysters growing in the bay

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.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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34 Responses to Ha Long Bay (Halong Bay) – Much anticipated, surreal, ephemeral, gray

  1. cherylsmit says:

    Great pictures! Love the pearl factory

    Like

  2. Anna Shriftman says:

    May I ask you if you were on your own for the entire trip or did it on your own. Thank you Anna

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    • Hi Anna, we were on our own in Singapore and then did two tours back to back. The first one was two weeks in Cambodia with Intrepid tours. Loved it. The second one was with Gate 1 who we have traveled with several times. That tour repeated three days in Cambodia and then 11 more days in Vietnam. The Intrepid portion was more basic, but also more authentic. The Gate 1 portion better accommodations and well organized but I felt it was a bit sanitized in comparison. I would recommend both of these tour companies.

      Like

  3. Asif Taiyabi says:

    Hi Tim and Joanne,

    I have been following your blog and waiting eagerly for the next update, and thrilled to see our shared adventures at Ha Long bay and beyond posted.

    I am still post processing my images in Lightroom -it takes a while – work and Tax day preparations keep getting in the way. J

    I jumped a little ahead in my sequence of processing my images to Ha long bay and have attached a couple of before and after images using the “dehaze” feature, as you can tell it does make a difference. One can vary the strength of dehaze, I went a little extreme to showcase the possibilities. The emerald green waters are now visible, and in some instances a hint of the blue sky.

    A travelling tip: I always travel with my Steripen whenever I travel to the developing world, I used it this trip to sterilize the water for brushing my teeth, saving the bottled water for drinking. While in Peru, I used it on tap water and drank it without any consequences, while some of my travelling partners came down with dreaded bathroom syndrome. Highly recommended – It works !

    Looking forward to seeing your next posts and where you are headed off too – your adventures are giving me some ideas, though I may have to wait 5-8 years to act. Keep blogging – I am going to live vicariously through your adventures.

    Asif

    Like

    • Hello Asif, How wonderful to hear from you! I do not see your corrected pictures, but very much want to see them. Perhaps sending them via email? I probably won’t have time to play with Lightroom until this summer. Funny you mention the steripen. We actually brought one with us on the trip and then never used it. We did always use bottles water for brushing our teeth though. I still have several more posts to do, and plan on getting caught up this coming week. We leave again on the 26th for Morocco, Portugal and Spain. Barely time to catch our breath, and still not caught up with our laundry 😔. Please give my regards to your entire family. JJ

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  4. Colin Spain says:

    Hi. I have been waiting for ‘the next post’ and wondered if cyber space had grabbed it. Good to hear you are safe. Keep on traveling and blogging.

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  5. Fog, to me, always adds a special quality. The cave was gorgeous. Amazing what they do with color. How much they can fit on a motorbike always blows me away. –Curt

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    • Curt, you are right about the fog adding to the ambiance. It gave Halong Bay a bit of a mystical feeling. I know I was shocked and amazed many times over seeing motorbikes loaded with more items than we would typically put in the back of a full size pick-up truck. Clever indeed!

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  6. Chris Bender says:

    Beautiful photos and amazing dialogue! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your adventures with us.

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  7. Merrill says:

    Glad to see a new installment and know you’re home safe. I like the greens in the farm field! I know how you feel about the Ha Long Bay visit. I’d wish for the beautiful view too, but we take what we can and make the best of it!
    Anxious to hear about your future cruise plans! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. nikitaanandguha says:

    Great post Joanne! Loved the pictures. I travelled to Ha Long in Dec 2015 and the weather was cloudy and windy as expected! But I loved the weather as it added to another mystical touch to the place! Here is my post:

    https://voyagetreasures.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/a-dream-called-halong-bay/

    Happy travelling!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mommermom says:

    Great pictures and very interesting. Home in time for rain, huh?😊

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rethy says:

    I was waiting to get glance of Ha Long Bay from your perspective… Loved the post and the images! We visited three months back.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I hope you had some sunshine.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think the fog enhanced the beauty of the photos – like you said, a bit of surreality. Maybe you’ll get some sunshine in Morocco? Happy and safe travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am glad you made your dream come true and the photos are just lovely. Not every day is a sunny day, like life itself.
    I too love that picture embroidered in silk; the detail is amazing!
    Enjoy your time with your son in California. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Magnificent location

    Liked by 3 people

  15. ardysez says:

    I’ve had trouble motivating myself for a trip to Vietnam but you have helped move me along…possibly. Ha Long bay is the main attraction for me, and oddly, I have always pictured it monochromatic, shrouded in fog and mist, so probably that means it will be sunny for us if we get there! Enjoyable read, thanks Joanne.

    Liked by 2 people

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