The Legend of Ha Long Bay
Vinh Ha Long or Bay of the Descending Dragon is often touted by proud Vietnamese as the world's wonder. One of the main attractions of Ha long is the bay's calm water and the thousands of Limestone Mountains dotting the seascape. The Bay's water is clear during the spring and early summer. Some of the islands are quite large and there are small alcoves with sandy beaches where swimming is possible. Ha Long bay lies in the northeastern part of Vietnam and is 165 Km from Hanoi.
Ha Long literally means descending dragon(s) and according to Vietnamese local myth, the story goes as follows:
Long ago when their forefathers were fighting foreign invaders from the north, the gods from heaven sent a family of dragons to help defend their land. This family of dragons descended upon what is now Ha Long bay and began spitting out jewels and jade. Upon hitting the sea, these jewels turned into the various islands and islets dotting the seascape and formed a formidable fortress against the invaders. The locals were able to keep their land safe and formed what is now the country of Vietnam. The Dragon family fell so much in love with this area for its calm water and for the reverence of the people of Vietnam that they decided to remain on earth. Mother dragon lies on what is now Ha Long and where her children lie is Bai Tu Long which means “Thanks to the Dragon’s children”.. The dragon tails formed the area of Bach Long Vi known for the miles of white sandy beaches of Tra Co peninsula.
This myth is in line with the Vietnamese myth of their origin Con Rong Chau Tien (descendent of the Dragon and the fairy). This myth describes the union between a king (representing the dragon) and his bride (representing a goddess) giving birth to 100 children which are the ancestors of the Vietnamese people. The Ha Long myths illustrate the Vietnamese belief of their Dragon origin.
- Arts and Culture
Floating Fishing Villages
Halong Bay has many floating fishing communities and if you travel to Cat Ba Island you'll see them up close. We paddled past them complete with barking dogs when we went canoeing. I have heard that some of the people living on them were born here and never set foot on dry land - kind of like in the film Waterworld starring Kevin Costner.
On the long list of seafood, here is a small summary on the most impressive :
1. Sai sung rang moi xao - Roasted sipucudilac
" Sai Sung " - sand worms fired with garlic & cabbage - ( hearty meal it makes ). It also tasted good when dried & served with beer. Willing to try?
2. Tom Hap - steamned lobster
You can choose once the boat stop at the floating seafood market - where you can see all kind of fishes, squid...etc.. Lobster is popular dish, and lobster in Halong is different with other regions. ( Pity I'm not a connoiseur to recognize that ).
3. Oc xao tuong ot - Fried shell-fish with chillis
An excellent appetizer you can have in Halong Bay.
4. Cha muc banh cuon - Grilled cuttle fish and steam rolled rice pancakes
Fish is quickly deep dried then cut into pieces & grilled, steam rolled rice pancakes are served accompanied, perfect to soak up the juices of the fish.
There are more and more... Food just great!
- Food and Dining
Life on the Water
A couple thousand Vietnamese have foregone foundations to make their homes on the waters of Ha Long Bay. These nautical residents have traded creature comforts such as electricity for outstanding views from their front porches. Most make ends meet from what's on offer below the surface, or selling beer, cigarettes, and Pringles to tourists.
- National/State Park
- Budget Travel
Smoking is a MALE Thing in Vietnam
Smoking is rarely done by females in this part of the world since it is considered unfeminine, unattractive to the Vietnamese and a sign of loose morals! Just my luck, this denied me of a chance to try the Dieu Cay. Arrgh...
As we sailed around the bay, we noticed several small fishing communities of floating homes. These people spend their entire lives on the water, stepping foot on land only to buy supplies and to sell their fish.
Vietnamese believe that the soul of the decease will hover around the house or property for almost a year & guard the belongings and welfare of their loved ones. Therefore, it is a common sight of seeing tomb being setup in the field or next to houses.
Of course the city resident cannot just bury their loved ones in the house or next to busy streets; proper burial ground or cremation will be carried out for practicality sake.
- Road Trip
Floating House on Halong Bay
Here's another floating house. This shade of blue seemed to be very popular throughout the bay. I’ve read that many of these homes, although perhaps not this one, are multiple generations old.
They Steer With Their Feet
Our captain had the ability to recline, eat his lunch and steer the boat all at the same time! Now that's talent. That's him chewing his food.
This space also doubles as his sleeping quarters.
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons