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Ha Long I’ve Waited!

I’ve waited very long indeed to see Ha Long Bay.

I’d seen pictures of this UNESCO world heritage site ages ago and it’s been sitting on my to-do list patiently, waiting to be ticked off. The day trip was very exhausting. And I’d recommend an over night trip instead, to anyone asking. Ha Long Bay is a beautiful, calming sight; imagine thousands of islands floating on placid waters.

One thousand nine hundred and sixty islands spread over approximately fifteen hundred square kilometers to be precise. And the rickety old fashioned boats weave through the islands slowly and very quietly.

My boat made three stops on the six-hour trip. First at a floating market where you could buy fruits and live fish that the boat’s kitchen staff would gladly cook for you. At the second stop you could either go kayaking or hop on a tiny motorboat to explore a cluster of islands that have land locked the sea and can only be accessed from a tiny cave. The third and my favourite, was the most incredible labyrinth of limestone caves I’ve ever seen in my life. The Stalactites and Stalagmites inside the caves were spectacular. They looked like massive pillars of melting wax.

The temperature was so cool inside that I thought the Vietnamese Tourism board had been kind enough to install air-conditioning. All natural though! The only thing I would change (ok, two things maybe) would be the awful colourful lights they had planted all over the place. The caves are pretty spectacular just as they are, and the red, blue and green lights made it look tacky! Also, they’ve made it impossible to get lost or explore they caves beyond the ‘walk way’. What’s the point of being in a big beautiful cave if you can’t get lost or have a little adventure!

Apart from being tackily lit and too safe, the caves were the highlight of the day for me.

An enthusiastic Vietnamese boy told me that the symbol of Ha Long Bay are the ‘Kissing Rocks’. I later found out that they’re it’s actually called ‘Fighting Cocks’! Honest mistake I’m sure.

Then, last evening, I went to see the famous Vietnamese Water Puppet Show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi.

I went for the 5 pm show and the theatre was packed. Almost an equal number of locals as there were tourists; I thought that was very nice. It’s a good sign when a traditional art form is still enjoyed by the locals and isn’t just a tourist trap.

The introduction was made in French, English and Vietnamese; and the show was staged to a live Vietnamese folk orchestra. The stage has a large pool of water with bamboo screens in the background. The puppets are controlled by long wooden sticks attached at their base that are submerged in the water and the puppeteers are behind the screens.

The stories staged, are mostly about life in rural Vietnam, traditional folklore and mythological characters. The only problem is that they were in Vietnamese (obviously), so I couldn’t tell if they were love stories with happy endings or war stories with a tragic end! Though, that might be because I bought cheap seats and couldn’t see clearly from all the way at the back!

The music was very nice. I loved the traditional instruments and it was a welcome change from all the Vietnamese Pop I’ve been forced to listen to in the busses and restaurants.

The show lasted an hour, after which I caught up for an early dinner with my Singaporean, French-Canadian and Australian roomies from the hostel. We went to a restaurant where they train and employ disabled people. The service was great and the Mojito was fabulous!

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12 Responses to “Ha Long I’ve Waited!”

  1. kiran says:

    Ha Long…you really caught my imagination. You write well girl and each time I get transported to a different world after reading your post. Thank you and keep going.

  2. Rakesh says:

    Hi Tithiya,

    Way to go, nice to see your dreams turning to reality. You are really having a ball and also feeding ‘nice’ bugs with your blood.

    Ha Long seems to be an amazing experience and we have had a chance to experience some of its wonder through you post

    Cheers and Keep walking!!
    Rakesh – DA & TARAhaat,

  3. Thomas MacAonghus says:

    ha long has great mythology associated with it too! i was there a couple of years back.

  4. Paul Nethan says:

    it is the Kissing Rocks!!! why would they call it fighting cocks…lol!

  5. Divya says:

    good stuff! keep marching!

  6. Nathan Coyle says:

    amazing, i heard its seascape of limestone pillars, planning to go there next year sometime during my asia trip.

  7. Francois says:

    looks both majestic and mysterious!

  8. sameer sachdeva says:

    all the best for cambodia!

  9. Ron Comeau says:

    the surprising cave and ti top island are the best parts

  10. Norah says:

    hey your journey keeps getting interesting… all the very best!

  11. Gopal Dutt says:

    halong City is a mess, a pathetic start to the trip, but the bay is fanatastic

  12. natasha yadav says:

    wonderfully written…u go girl

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