Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is an area east of Hai Phong with around limestone 2,000 islets. The limestone has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created bio-diversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. The bay consists of a dense cluster of limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves.

Almost all these islands are as individual towers in a classic fenglin landscape with heights from 50m to 100m, and height/width ratios of up to about six. Another feature of Halong Bay is the abundance of lakes inside the limestone islands. For example, Dau Be island has six enclosed lakes. All these island lakes occupy drowned dolines within fengcong karst.

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Safety briefing .. The Orion II .. with zodiac launching platform. Ready for the rain .. ..and the tourist boat.
..for a trip round the bay. A surprising amount of shipping.. ..and the islands looming out of .. ..the mist. Past fishing villages .. ..which were very busy places.
And on to the Hang Đầu Gỗ (Wooden stakes cave) which is the largest grotto in the Hạ Long area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century French graffiti). There are two bigger islands, Tuần Châu and Cat Ba, that have permanent inhabitants. There are a number of beautiful beaches on the smaller islands. Around 1,600 people live in Hạ Long Bay in four fishing villages. They live on floating houses and ply the shallow waters for fish and shellfish. Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes. Such names include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha (roof).
One comes across the locals .. ..fishing everywhere. And there... ..is the occasional genuine old .. ..junk in full sail. We then headed into one of the interior lagoons ..
..reached by a low cave. Where ..we found Gabor dispensing hot. ..mulled wine. Before a zoom .. ..on the zodiacs back to Orion .. ..and up anchor and away


Next on to Hue and Da Nang

Cruise Hanoi to Singapore on Orion II