I went to Halong Bay in northern Vietnam back in 2006, before I became the more cynical seasoned traveller that I am today. My experience was one of pure adventure and amazement, and my fresh young eyes perceived the majesty of the world we live in.
It was hot there. Really really hot. My best friend and I were on an overnight cruise in the bay and we’d dropped anchor amongst the tall limestone karsts that jutted out of the water all around us. Sleeping in our cabin seemed ludicrous given the temperature, so we stayed out on deck. I’m so glad we did, because it was the most memorable experience of the whole trip. We were under the stars, sitting on sun loungers, gazing out across the water to one of the islands. Only the outline was visible, but this made it all the more impressive. Seeing the giant rocky structure rise from nowhere out of the sea was so mysterious by night. We felt like we were in a film set. It was too beautiful to be real.
By day we kayaked around the islands. We came across a tiny little sea cave so we went in to have a look. We soon retreated when we realised there was someone living in there! I think he was as surprised to see us as we were to see him!
I was fortunate in my awestruck state of wonder to be blissfully oblivious to the pollution and tourist overcrowding in Halong Bay, although reportedly these problems are much more obvious now. I’m very grateful that I was able to experience the true timeless magnificence of this place of ancient legend and mystery. These glimpses of natural paradises are still available to us amidst the mayhem of popular tourist spots if we’re open to the experience.SHARE