North Vietnam's famous Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO site and one of the seven wonders of the world. A 4 hour drive West of Hanoi, the bay's name, "halong," literally means "descending dragon." Legend has it that when the country was newly formed, seafaring invaders threatened invasion. Feeling sorry for this new kingdom, the Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon and her children to protect Vietnam. The dragons incinerated the invaders with fire, and from their open mouths a thousand emeralds poured into the sea. Those diamonds grew and became the thousand karst islands and islets that rise from the green waters of Ha Long Bay.
Meg and Z thankful for solid ground after 4 hours of re-living the movie "Speed" on a Vietnamese tour bus. Meg's rocking the new tangerine shades I talked her into getting in Hanoi. Somehow she doesn't appreciate that I keep calling her "CHIPS".
|Omigod it's so hot. Please let our boat get here soon.
|seriously, it was like 98 degrees in that waiting area with no A/C and no fans, so putting on hot life vests felt awesome
|our creepy welcome to our Bay cruiser, the Treasure Junk. We considered turning around at this point.
|...but our junk turned out to be very nice. In fact, our cabin was better than most of the hotels we've stayed in. The bay hosts about 600 of these sizeable cruise boats a day, over 200 of which spend at least one overnight on the water.
That's a lot of tourism for one ecosystem to handle.
|much of the crew's time was devoted to stuffing us full of seafood in this state room
|Sundeck with succulents lining the middle
|Lach enjoying said sundeck, notice the kayaks stashed in the back
|Shrimp as the Jade Emperor created them. Seafood for the hardcore seafood lover.
|Lach and Z helped make these spring rolls, a live aboard with a cooking class- super deluxe
|And now for the photos of the bay...
|Boys in kayaks. Super cool to get up close and personal with the karsts in the kayaks.
|And now the ladies. I have realized that I need to take a few selfies or history may forget that I was on this trip!
We took a break and checked out a deserted beach. The water felt good, not sure how clean it was, think about those 600 boats a day and the waste they produce. Oh well, all seem fine now.
|king of the world
|a real Vietnamese liveaboard. A family of five fishes and lives here.
|did find a few moments to chill and take it all in
|cocktail hour and games, right on!
|ok maybe too many selfies
|the fine looking teenager
|if you're wondering why we haven't had as many pics of Whitman on the blog, here's why
|Scott displaying his 3 month travel beard
|Some of the other 200 bay cruisers that bedded down for the night on Ha Lang
|Early morning coffee
And then some early morning Tai Chi overlooking the karsts. Not a bad way to start the day.
|Have I mentioned I really like this flag!
The teen need shots for his instagram feed
Cool flag right?
Below we went on small boats rowed by local Vietnamese women to check out an oyster/pearl farm and to see their floating villages. There are people who spend all their time on the water in this bay.
Strong powerful women everywhere in SE Asia, especially on this trip
|one of the amazing, specialized fishing vessels we saw at the floating village.
The huge lights are for attracting squid and other fish that are drawn to light at night time.
It's really hard to not take a bazillion pics here.
In order to grow even more pearls and increase their success rate, they have a process to encourage a pearl to grow, its still a "real" pearl they assured us and takes years to produce. We thought it was just some small scale IVF happening.
|And back on land at the super hot waiting area, passing time before the 4 hours back to Hanoi. All the kids have read a lot on on this trip no doubt, but Z has been ferocious, she's got to be 40+ books and still going. It was a great trip all around!