Our last trip was the long awaited one to Ha Long bay. We booked it through our lovely hostel lady Kim. She is the best sales person I have ever met. She would easily be able to sell a parachute flight to someone who’s scared of heights. There’s something about her that makes you instantly like her.
She booked us onto the Fantasea Cruise for two days and one night.
The bay was gorgeous. I understand what all the fuss is about. Beautiful limestone rocks and caves are scattered all along the bay. Ha Long Bay stretches over a surface of 1500 squared kilometers, and there are 1969 limestone formations. Some of them are considered islands.
We stopped at Cat Ba island, where the biggest cave of the bay lays. It’s called Sung Sot Cave, translated as Surprise Cave. This, because it consists of 3 compartments, each one a lot larger than the previous one. The limestone, stalactites, stalagmites and pillars (where -mite and -tite touch each other) were beautiful. But the ceiling was the most fascinating part.
The whole surface was covered in some sort of pancake shaped dents. These hollows are caused by the ocean. The tectonic plates have pushed the limestone cave more and more upwards over the years, which means the ceiling used to be a lot lower. And then the sea level was a lot higher. Which caused the entire cave to fill with salt water, creating those shapes on the inside.
It’s a shame to see how every beautiful piece of nature slowly gets destroyed by humans. Touching the limestone and causing black marks (I have to plead guilty myself as well, as in some bits I needed to hold on for grip), walking off the designated pathway, and even carving names into the limestone. Yes, there are seriously names and dates in the limestone.
The four to five thousand visitors a day don’t treat Ha Long Bay itself very well either. Piles of garbage swerve around the edges of the beautiful rocks, and before taking off in the morning, our boat drained the entire sewerage in the water. I really wished people were more aware, and locals and tour guides would make more effort to create awareness among tourists.
All the rock formations are a beautiful and unusual sight. You can see pictures, but you cannot express in pictures what it is like to be amongst all these natural creations. We were hoping we’d be able to jump off the boat to swim, as it says in the brochures. You’re not allowed though, probably because of all the shit being dumped in it. We did go kayaking, which was amazing too. Being in the tiny kayaks, you could get an idea of how large these statues are.
We got to swim on another island. We got one hour here to hang out. There was a stairway to climb to a viewpoint, and a little beach to swim. The beach looked as if all the 5000 tourists were here at once. The water looked gross, and was packed. There was a massive jellyfish, and a Chinese tourist pushed it on land while children threw sand on it.
I was so happy to see she got told off by a western tourist. The viewpoint was gorgeous, but got very packed and people were pushing their way in.
We were lucky with our tour guides, as they were very friendly and trying to make the trip the best for us. We read some bad reviews and were relieved with how our trip turned out.