Of sun,sea,sand and finding a hero.

Under the Tuscan Sun

Enjoy Tuscany with a glass of wine

Finding Felicity in El Nido

Pink painted skies in El Nido,Philippines

Quaint Girona

Off the beaten path in Girona

Good Morning,Vietnam

Cruise the emerald water of Hanoi

Friday, September 28, 2012

Halong Bay: So you want to visit Halong Bay

Being tagged as a UNESCO Heritage site and a claim to fame by Vietnam by being included in the new 7 wonders of nature, don't be surprised that it is being flocked by tourist from every corner of the world. Most tavelers find their way to Hanoi just to be able to cruise in the emerald waters aboard a traditional boat commonly called 'junk'. When I started to research on Halong Bay and Hanoi, I was under the impression that Halong Bay is in Hanoi which is actually incorrect. Halong Bay is actually in Quang Ninh which is about 3-4 hrs bus ride from Hanoi. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thoughts: Halong Bay, a Reality Check

Blogger's note: Thoughts blogpost will bare my personal reflection on the place. It is my own opinion and not in anyway providing a fact or generalization of the subject matter.

I can distinctly remember a photograph of a small wooden fishing boat being rowed by a man in a conical straw hat floating in emerald green water flanked by huge limestone karsts.You may call it as love at first sight but that photo instilled something in me that one day I will visit that almost magical place of emerald green water dotted with giant limestone karsts.That is the day I fell in love with Halong Bay.

It took sometime before I was able to realize the dream when everything fell into its place. I was able to find some travel buddies who also have this UNESCO heritage site in their bucket list and the time, finances and good airline fare to push through with the trip. I found the perfect birthday gift for myself.

We scoured, organized, compared and emailed cruise tour operators to be able to land a "good deal". With much perseverance and poring over excel files - we found 'IT' (meaning nice boat but within our budget, backed by positive reviews from trip advisor). It is just a matter of processing the 50% deposit via Paypal and we got the slots for the cruise 2 weeks prior to our arrival in Hanoi

The night before the Halong bay cruise, I do remember the feeling of giddiness much like the little girl on Christmas eve waiting for morning to unwrap her Christmas present. Tomorrow, I shall unwrap my birthday gift and I will make sure that I will savor every bit of it.

The excitement of experiencing the highlight of this trip became palpable as we got nearer to the port, the outlines of the numerous and towering limestones karsts are now visible. A few more minutes and I will have that 'National Geographic' feeling as we cruise along this natural masterpiece of stones and water. 

When the engines of the junk boat started, I rushed out into the deck to immerse myself into the moment where the boat glides through the still waters of the bay as the limestone karsts looms in both side like giants looking down at us. I felt that small flutter in my heart of having the privilege to witness in person this natural wonder created over a span of billion years. It was like admiring the handiwork of God. Well it lasted for about 30 minutes, until people started to loiter around the deck snapping photos for 'profile pics'. And then I noticed that there are now several junk boats in the area that I can't even take a picture of the horizon without any boat in it. In 30 minutes, I had my fill of the green still waters and limestone karsts. It's like going into the buffet and after 1 plateful - I had enough.