Skyscrapers of Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
November 20/21, 2014

Boat rower

Our boat rower sang a beautiful Vietnamese song, but stopped every time I pointed my camera at her.

Ha Long Bay in northeast Vietnam is one of the 7 New Natural Wonders of the world. 1,600 spectacular islands and islets, known as drowned karst landscape, pierce the bay like gray skyscrapers. Karst is formed by erosion of soluble rocks such as limestone, gypsum and dolomite. 20 million years of fluctuating seas and tropical climate have geomorphed the 150 to 300 foot limestone towers into a network of impressive caves, notches and arches.

Our boat is a beautiful wooden junk with fan-like orange sails modeled from an old Vietnamese court vessel. A large, carved dragon head is at the bow. Legend has it that Ha Long Bay was created by a huge dragon who’s tail carved out valleys and ravines as he descended from a mountain racing toward shore. Ha Long Bay, means “descending dragon bay” in Vietnamese.

David, Dawn and I share a comfortable room with a full bath and hot shower. This is a welcome luxury. Our travel preferences have evolved over the last 40 years. We still enjoy the rustic experiences of our backpacking hippie days like our homestay in Dorikha Village at a chilly altitude of 9,000 ft. Bhutan but I love throwing in a splash of decadence here and there. Ha Long Bay was just what we needed. We spent our two days touring the islands, making friends, eating, kayaking, taking Tai Chi classes, and relaxing on deck inhaling the amazing view. Ha Long Bay is high on my Vietnam must-do list.

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