Thursday, January 13, 2011

Halong Bay and The Descending Dragon

Halong Bay is an incredibly picturesque grouping of almost 2000 tiny islands of differing shapes and sizes, and due the Bay's magical landscape and unique biodiversity and flourishing ecosystems, it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Halong Bay is also known as Descending Dragon Bay. According to legend, the Gods sent a family of Dragons down to protect Halong Bay from invaders. The Dragons breathed out precious jewels which turned into to hundreds of small islands to provide a protective fortress, thus thwarting the enemy and saving Halong Bay. The Dragons fell in love with the scenic beauty of the bay and so decided to stay on earth — many of the islands are what remains of the their footsteps as they descended into the water. Thanks to them we now enjoy the verdant beauty of the undulating seascape, a series of spectacular caves and spectacular grottoes.

Sung Sot, or Surprise Cave, is just that — a surprisingly breathtaking gift of nature. Halong Bay was submerged for eons, and as the limestone base was slowly eroded over time by tidal waters, a magical underwater kingdom was born. Courtesy of The Violet, a handsome Vietnamese Junk, we were able to cruise Halong Bay and explore the caves and neighbouring fishing villages that dot the shoreline.

Thanks to the efforts of the village fishermen, we were treated to fabulous fresh fish and seafood from the pristine waters of the Halong Bay — perhaps gifts from the Dragon or Neptune himself!