It has been more than a week since I last blogged and since I didn’t have a chance to blog our long, final day in Vietnam, wanna pretend I made this entry last week?
With a red-eye flight leaving the country, it probably wasn’t the greatest idea for us to wake up before dawn Wednesday and drive four hours to Halong Bay. It is a beautiful tourist destination, but it is a bumpy 4-hour drive from Hanoi. To stretch our legs, we stopped at a ceramics factory halfway there. They were opening the place just as we were getting there and there were a handful of workers hand painting bowls.
Even though they usually break when on the trip home, Chris brought a couple of items. A decorative plate and a whistle that, when filled with water, warbles like a bird. It is bound for Claire’s show-and-tell when we get back home.
Halong bay is famous for hundreds of large limestone rocks (karsts) that rise steeply out of the water. Its name, translated, is Descending Dragon because the rocks supposedly look like a legendary dragon that protected ancient Vietnam from the Chinese. We took a boat tour around the rocks, unfortunately it was a very overcast day. We had to get out Marissa’s broken school umbrella that we brought from home. We were the only passengers on the boat, probably because it was such a dreary day.
One of the most famous formations is called the Kissing Rocks. It is also called the Ho Ga Troi (Fighting Cocks) by those not in a romantic mood. A picture of it is on the 200,000 Dong note.
These rock formations were formed by the erosion of the limestone and some of that erosion also caused large caves within a few of the rocks. Our boat stopped at the Dong Thien Cung (Heaven Palace Grotto). The cave is lit up by multi-colored lights, which I thought was pretty, and fake fountains, which I found tacky.
The boat also stopped by a floating fish hatchery that had Cuttlefish, Prawn, Eel, and Crab. After the stop we had lunch on the boat and all that fresh seafood was prepared for us. When it was obvious to the waitress that Marissa was not interested in any of it, they kindly made her a batch of fries. Thank goodness Marissa likes rice or she would have starved on this trip.