Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Halong Bay, Vietnam

The same kind of "gumdrop" mountains that we saw in Guilin are out in the waters of Halong Bay, a 2-hour drive from Hanoi to the Gulf of Tonkin.  The bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 5000 islets of limestone.  This was the only day of our trip that we had any rain, but it was mostly clear and although not blue skies, we did have a nice view of the beautiful scenery. 
Getting ready to board.
Baby bananas!

The bananas were yummy.  We purchased them from the boat that pulls up alongside the tourist boat and sells from there.

Fruit Seller

Another "Rose Pose"

We stopped at one of the islets to see the cave called Dong Thien Cung.  It looked much like the Reed Flute Cave we had seen in Guilin with the same colored lights on the stalagmites and stalactites.

Here is the opening used by the princesses.
There is a tale of seven princesses who flew down from heaven into the cave by this "escape route" where they took off their wings and left them to swim and play in the ocean.  They came back, rinsed off in the fresh spring water in the cave, put their wings back on and flew away to heaven.

Back on the boat we enjoyed such beautiful scenery in such a pleasant, peaceful way.  Quite a different scene from the bustling streets of Hanoi.

Halong Bay

More Halong Bay

We enjoyed a really nice lunch on the boat--I especially enjoyed the fresh shrimp!

There are so many different views, it's hard not to put all my pictures on the blog.

All of the formations are beautiful, and many of them have unique shapes, but this special pair are thought to look like a rooster and a hen "kissing".  What do you think?

Kissing Birds - the "symbol" of Halong Bay
Our evening entertainment included a famous Vietnamese tradition--the water puppet show.
The picture doesn't do it justice--watch the videos.

Water Dancing Dragons

Water Puppets and Orchestra 

The music was so loud, I had to cover my ears!

Love is Blue

Were you stupefied?  When it was all over, we looked at each other in surprise.  It was more like something we'd see at a kindergarten program in school than a meaningful historic art form.  Anyway, it's famous here, and we've seen it!

We enjoyed more lovely food here, and some gorgeous homes in the neighborhood.
Delicious soup--delightful presentation--the tea light candle underneath kept it hot!

A woman rode by on her bicycle selling a bread with an egg fried inside.  Kirk bought two for us, then she was talking and grabbing at his wallet, shoving more at him, trying to get him to buy more!  She was pretty aggressive!

On the drive back to Hanoi, we saw some stilt houses built out in the bay where the fishermen live.  So many unique ways to live on this planet!  I can't imagine that.
Next stop:  Saigon, Vietnam

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