What do King Kong, dragons, and limestone all have in common?
Hạ Long Bay!
This past weekend, my GESI Vietnam group travelled to Hạ Long Bay for a day packed full of exploring. We drove two and a half hours to the bay and hopped on a boat to tour the islands. As we boarded the boat in the harbor, all we could see were the countless tourists adorned in banana shorts and shirts combinations here to see the sights. However, once we pulled out of the boat-packed alcove, I was in awe. Right before us were 2,000 islands (only 1,000 of which are named) floating in the teal water. The islands seem to pop up out of no where as they create a patchwork across the horizon. Sharp limestone cliff-faces fade to lush green coverage on every island. We found out that this breathtaking scene is where the latest King Kong movie, Kong: Skull Island, was filmed! We were also told the legend of Hạ Long Bay: The story speaks of a mother dragon and her children descending from the heavens to protect Vietnam during a time of war. They spat emerald and jade jewels into the sea that rose as islands to defend the newly formed country. After protecting Vietnam, the dragons remained on Earth and can be seen in the shape of the landscape of Hạ Long Bay and the smaller bays along the coast.
Our boat meandered through the forest of islands on our way to our first site: Sửng Sốt Cave (or Surprising Cave). Entering the most famous cave in Hạ Long Bay was a welcome respite from the heat and sun outside; the incredible rock formations and open caverns were pretty good, too… After making our way through the site, we joined back on the boat and ventured over to our kayaking stop! I was so excited to finally float alongside the islands I was mesmerized by all day. The water was some of the warmest I had ever felt, so sitting directly into a puddle the moment I climbed in the kayak was no problem. Lydia and I paddled around the island cove as we heard the constant clicking of insects in the green surrounding us. On our way back to the dock, we saw monkeys climbing down from the trees to meet other boat-goers! Back on the boat, we moseyed over to the beach for a swim to end our day.
Much of Hạ Long Bay is closed to tourists meaning that all of the locations we visited were jam-packed on this beautiful day. I only wish we had been able to escape the crowd and explore the islands a little more 🙂
So much green!
Overlooking Hạ Long Bay 🙂
Inside the biggest room of Sửng Sốt Cave
Kayaking in a cool hat