Ha Long Bay

We did a 3 day/2 night cruise of Ha Long Bay off the coast of northern Vietnam.  We were amazed at how vast the area is; the islands are all quite steep and about the same height, which means that they disappear into a hazy background of blues.

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We enjoyed climbing one of the karsts and sitting on the beach afterwards. The area around there is full of boats – it is a very popular location – but while around, the bay is big enough that you usually only see one other boat around.  After putting our feet into the cold bay water we went back to the boat for sunset. We sat on the sundeck and watched a spectacular sunset at Ha Long Bay.

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The next day we took a smaller boat from our main cruise boat to go to a few locations. We travelled through a tunnel in a karst to a lagoon that was otherwise surrounded on 360 degrees by rock.  This was Luon Cave.

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There is a troop of monkeys who live on the island. They are much better climbers than we are! We would still have loved to climb with them, although they may have thought otherwise.

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The next stop was a second cave called Ho Dong Tien (Fairy Cave). We crawled around inside this cave; it has narrow passages and is unlit which is a great natural experience.  We enjoyed climbing around the cave in the dark and exploring the passage ways. Eventually we climbed into the area that gave the cave its name. The rock sparkles when you shine your light on it, as if there are fairies ensconced there.

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We had a beautiful clear evening on the boat for our second night.  We tried our hand at squid fishing before dinner. Although we did not catch anything ourselves, two squid were caught and we could view the squid swimming in the water.  The squid were taken into the kitchen and (we assume) served as part of dinner. After dinner, we relaxed on the top deck with cocktails.  At night all of the boats stayed in one spot in the bay. It lights up the water beautifully, as if it is a floating city.

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On the last day we went to Sung Sot/surprising cave, which is ‘improved’ with lights and a walkway; it is much better for photography though.  This cave was called surprising because it was so big that it kept surprising its guests.  We walked through this cave with our guide who pointed out what they imagined all of the rock structures to look like.  What does the picture below look like to you?

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The guide said it is known as the Woolly Mammoth rock. Its head and ear are on the left with its body and two legs middle and right.  Megan’s favorite part of this cave was the ceiling.  It looks like sand on the beach that the waves had been crashing on. Our guide explained that this cave was at least 350 million years old and originally was filled with water. The movement of the water caused the ripples in the ceiling, just as it does on the sand.

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