Halong bay boat trip in Northern Vietnam

Halong bay is declared as a World Heritage Site and it famous tourist attraction by its natural beauty. It has an area of 1.553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone.The limestone in Halong bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments.

The name Halong is derived from the Sino-Vietnamese, meaning “descending dragon”. According to local legend, when Vietnam had just started to develop into a country, they had to fight against invaders. To assist the Vietnamese in defending their country, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. Under magics, numerous rock mountains abruptly appeared on the sea, ahead of invaders’ ships; the forward ships struck the rocks and each other. After winning the battle, the dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the Earth and then decided to live in this bay. Beautiful legend, huh?

I was picked up at 8:30 am at the hotel and it took about 3,5 hours to drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay by bus. I felt excited, I’ve been thinking about visiting this place for some months before. It is a 2 days trip with 1 night sleeping on the boat. I had a shared room option with another lady, but while checking in, I found out that I have 2 neighbors instead: a Romanian girl Ioana and Italian guy Diego. Hahaha, good company. As a result, I and Ioana were sleeping in one king bed🙂

All the food was included in the price on the boat, except drinks. It was very good and adjusted for any kind of tastes: meat, seafood, vegetarian.

After chilling a bit on the boat and enjoying a stunning view, we’ve been taken to a cave.

Surprise Cave is considered the most magnificent cave in Halong bay. It covers 10,000 m2. There are thousands of stalactites and stalagmites along the 500-meter paved passage. Light posts line the passage and illuminate the amazing scenery. Sunrise Cave is about 30 meters high, the walls and innumerable cracks and crevices are evidence of millions of years of spectacular natural creation.

There are two partitions in Sunrise cave. The first one is similar to a theater hall with many stalactites hanging from the high ceiling.

A narrow passage leads to the second chamber, where a flow of natural light bathes the surfaces. The light is filtering in from above, through a large opening creating a natural skylight, this opening also serves as the exit from the cave.

Great! What is the next? And the next is kayaking! I like those kinds of different activities!

Ah, it was sooooo beautiful to kayak on the sunset!

Yeah, it’s been a great day! Even at night, it was peaceful and beautiful. This was the first time when I remembered about Christmas haha

Here we are. Another beautiful day🙂 Not so much time left on the boat, the morning only, before we start heading back to the pier. But first, we are going to visit Pearl farm and learn the process of growing pearls. Interesting.

The first step in the pearl production process is to obtain oysters to be nucleated. To do this, the pearl farmer collects oyster sperm and eggs from high-quality oysters already on the farm. The sperm is used to fertilize the eggs, and so create a new generation of oyster larvae. The larvae are allowed to float freely in the water, under controlled conditions, until they are a few weeks old. In the wild, the larvae would then attach themselves to a rock or similar object, so the farmers provide ‘collectors’ for this purpose.

Over a period of a few months, the larvae develop into baby oysters. They are generally then moved into a separate “nursery” area of the farm. Here they are tended for around 1-2 years until they have grown sufficiently large to be nucleated.

The process of nucleation is a surgical procedure, whereby a foreign object is implanted into the oyster. This object causes irritation, which the oyster counteracts by secreting nacre to surround the object; this produces the pearl. Saltwater oysters are generally nucleated using a “bead”, prepared from mother-of-pearl. First, the bead is surrounded by a small piece of mantle tissue taken from a donor oyster. The bead and tissue are then implanted into the oyster’s gonad. The bead serves as a mold, or nucleus, around which the pearl develops. The resulting pearl will contain the bead at its center and will tend to develop in the same general shape as the original bead.

After nucleating, the oysters are given the few weeks to recover from the surgery. During this time, some of the oysters may reject and expel the implanted nuclei; others may become sick or even die. Most, however, will fully recover. The oysters are then placed in cages or nets and moved into the oyster bed, where they will be tended as the pearls develop. Depending on the type of oyster, this process can require anywhere from a few additional months to several more years!

It takes at least five years before an oyster becomes mature enough to produce a pearl, and the success rate is about 40 percent, only a small percentage are of a significant quality to fetch the very high prices. For pearls over 10mm, it might take up to seven or even ten years.

Well, while we were at Pearl farm, the weather changed. We are heading back to the pier and later on going by bus back to the hotel.

I thought, there are still 2 more days left in Hanoi before coming back home to Thailand. I didn’t get enough of a motorbike and I miss my iron horse. Why not ask Frank for a day off-road experience….? What a brilliant idea!!

 

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