June 29, 2006

Hanoi (3 of 3): HaLong Baby!!

HaLong Bay is what drew us to Vietnam. There are no words to describe this vast expanse of jade green waters and over 1600 limestone cliffs. It was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1994 and in Patricia Schultz's acclaimed 1000 Places To See Before You Die.

HaLong Bay is about 170 kms east of Hanoi (roughly a 2.5 hour drive). We booked a day trip through one of the many Sinh Cafes in Hanoi. The package costs only $18 and includes transportation to HaLong Bay, cruise, lunch on the boat, and a visit to 2 caves. You may opt for an overnight (which I wish we had time for) or a 2N/3D tour package.

The van picked us up in the hotel around 8:30 am, and along with some other travellers we headed east. Once there, we boarded one of the junks that would take us on this most memorable journey. Lunch was served on board, and consisted of vegetables, spring rolls, fish, rice and fresh fruit.

With us were a couple of Australian ladies, a French man, Ethan from New York, and 2 Korean girls. We lazed around on the sun deck, enjoying the breeze and the breathtaking scenery, as we passed more islands, fishing villages and secluded coves. Ethan and the Australian ladies jumped in for a refreshing dip in the cool waters before we made our way to Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace) Cave.

The vast Thien Cung grotto is a vision of color and beauty, like nature's art gallery. The stalactite formations on the walls and hanging from the cave's ceiling are a vision to behold. A lot of the formations remind me of jelly fish.

According to legend, it was in this grotto that the Dragon Prince married May, the lady who caught his eye. Their wedding was celebrated for seven days and seven nights.

Near the exit of the cave, a natural spring fountain gushes water all year round.


vina said...

it looks sooooo beautiful. must be really beautiful.

christine said...

It really is!! It's a lot like Palawan but on grander scale, and with green waters instead of blue.

briliantdonkey said...

wow as usuaul you are one busy beeeeee.....nice paint job on the blog by the way! looks awesome!


christine said...

Thanks Rob! :) I'm learning new things, and enjoying it.

wysgal said...

Vietnam is a dream destination this year. My travel calendar this year is all filled out though --- maybe next year! =)

christine said...

Hi wysgal, where are you travelling to this year if you don't mind my asking? :)

I've also exceeded my quota for the year , counting my trip on October to the US and Mexico.

Sigh, so many places to go so little time and money! :)

wysgal said...

This year I've been to Hong Kong for around 3 weeks in all (work), and locally to Boracay, Bacolod, Cebu (City + Malapascua + Bantayan).

And I have trips lined up for Jakarta, Palau (diving), Bangkok, and the US (Chicago, Atlanta, maybe San Francisco).

With random weekend trips to Anilao in between. Yes not enough time (and money) but while I'm young, I always say! =)

christine said...

Wow fun!

I'm starting my dive lessons soon, so maybe I'll bump into you in Anilao or better yet Palau when I get my license hehe :)

wysgal said...

Do you have a dive instructor already? Please do let me recommend mine ... I'm so in love with them and think they're the best ever! Email me if you're interested. =)

christine said...

Yes, a friend of mine is an instructor so I'd like to help him out. I'm supposed to start on the 15th but haven't bought any of the basic gear yet. I will email you though because I'd like to compare courses and rates. Thanks! :)