Monday, 11 May 2015

#ProjectMVietnam - Halong Bay

I don’t know anyone who isn't happier on a sailing boat. 

We raced down to the marina to begin our journey towards the magnificent Halong Bay.

Halong Bay is on the UNESCO heritage list.

I don't think I really need to explain why. (Brace yourself for a heavy dose of images that will make you head over to W
hoops. My bad!). 

I don't mind sharing, (exceptions are food, please don't touch my food) but, we were shocked to discover that we had this boat all to ourselves. It's not everyday that a local family cooks up a fresh seafood banquet for you on a private boat.

Crunchy crabs, savoury squid and flavoursome fish. Seafood heaven dosing on a white cloth. 

The Vietnamese eat seafood with a concoction of salt, pepper, chilli and lime - a bit like wasabi mixed with soy sauce for sushi. 

You squeeze the lime and stir the ingredients together yourself.

This Vietnamese dip is the perfect marriage with seafood, in the same way that British toast marries heaps of butter. Food gossip incoming... I don't sense a foodie divorce anytime soon. 

Let the lime see the fish! (I hope you read that in the Take Me Out Paddy Mcguinness voice).

They kept stocking us up with noodles, chicken and spring rolls. 

There must of been a telepathic vibration in the air or something. They knew I was coming.

After dinner I couldn't resist a snap with those kinds of views behind me.

OK, the moment you've been waiting for.

This is Halong Bay, the more you scroll down, the closer the boat swims towards Nevada. You'll be welcomed by thousands of giant limestones.

In the mist, the scene looks like a painting, and, it's hard to separate art from reality. It felt surreal to stand and open my arms out like Jack & Kate from The Titanic film - in front of this smooth jade sea. 

The pictures don't even do it justice. 

We were taken to the Fisherman's village where we hopped onto a smaller boat so we could waive our way in between rocks and admire it's beauty up close and personal. 

How beautiful are these crystal-like caves?

We climbed on board and our tour guide who spoke very basic English, gave us a brief overview of the bay. He starts waving his arms to tell us something.

“Meow, meow, look”. He points towards the rock.

(We were so confused as to what he was trying to say.)

“Caaat, meow, meow".

Then, Emily says, "Oh, he's trying to tell us that the rock is sculpted in the shape of a cat!". 

It totally does, don't you think?

We were taken to the 'Colourful Cave'. Yes, in English, it's actually called that. In Vietnamese it's 'Dong Thien Cung', which is a mouthful. (And I can't help snigger at the name Dong).

I swear there is something in the air of this cave, because me and the girls were in a state of giggles throughout the whole tour. I'll tell you why. The tour went something like this:

The tour guide whips his laser torch thing out. 

Him: "Look at this rock, what do you think it looks like?".

Us: "Erm". 

Him: "It's an elephant".

Him: "Look at this rock, what do you think it looks like?".

Us: "Erm". 

Him: "It's a fish".

Him: "Look at this rock, what do you think it looks like?". 

Us: "Erm". 

Him: "It's a dragon".

Us (amongst ourselves): "Is he just saying these rocks look like any animal he can think of?".

Him: "Look at this rock, what do you think it looks like?" 

At the same time, we all burst out laughing, you know when you laugh so hard you can't breathe? Some of us couldn't get up or look at him in the eye. 

Him: "What's so funny?".

Us: "We're sorry, but that 'snake' looks like a willy". 

Him: "Hahaha!" (He definitely thought we were right weirdos). 

Then after that, all we saw were boobs and willy shaped rocks and we couldn't stop laughing every time he said, "Look at this rock, what do you think it looks like?". 

Then when he said, "It looks bigger than mine!".

That's it, we had enough, we needed to get out of there before we died of fits. 

I was enLIGHTened. Hehehe. 

Top tip: don't forget to bring a cardigan / jacket inside, I didn't go in naked but I did oversee my outfit. It's cold, damp and very cavelike in there, obviously. 

We were then taken to the Pearl Oyster factory. 

Legend has it that the hundreds of islands in Halong Bay were formed by a dragon which spat jewels across the water. 

Fun fact: did you know that it takes at least five years before an oyster becomes mature enough to produce a pearl, and the success rate is about 40%? Ooooh.

We were taken to a very interesting demonstration of how they grow and extract the pearls from fishing to production. 

Conveniently they have a pearl jewellery shop next door which looked like a full on huge department store!

I brought my mum some Pearl Oyster cream. They say pearl extracts are good for the skin. 

*Phew*. And that's it. I think I've written enough for today.

“At the edge of madness you howl diamonds and pearls.” ― Aberjhani

Location: Vietnam - Halong Bay