06 May 2007

Halong Bay, North of Hanoi, Vietnam

Our trip to Halong Bay was a 3.5 hour drive through the country side, north of Hanoi. On our way to Halong Bay we stopped into Bat Trang, a ceramic village that has an amazing array of ceramic from traditional to modern. We couldn't help ourselves... we bought a ceramic elephant and a couple of lovely vases.

Then we continued on to But Thap Pagoda - which is situated on the dike of the Duong River, Thuan Thanh district, Bac Ninh province. The pagoda was built in the 17th century, during.the late Le dynasty. Its founder was Chinese Buddhist Priest Zhus Zhus, who died in 1644. There are 10 building on the pagoda land and the pagoda is very important to the local people in the province.

There is also another representation of Guan Yin. She is gorgeous... the whole statue, including its pedestal, is 3.7m tall. Behind her there is a round back board, forming a circle 2.2 m in diameter. The circle has 14 layers of 789 arms with an eye in each palm. Forty-two more arms encircle the waist, making various mudras (gestures of the hands).

Once we got to Halong Bay we freshened up, ventured out to look around the local market and have dinner at a local restaurant. It was a long weekend in Vietnam as the 30th of March was their National Day and the 1st of May was May Day... this meant it was very busy in Halong Bay.

The next day we headed out to see some of the 2000 islands around the area and the natural caves of Dau Go and Trinh Nu. We spent 5 hours on the bay and enjoyed a fantastic seafood lunch. Luckily our guide, Mr Bell (his first name) showed us how to break up the seafood and mix the herbs and spices.

While out on the bay we stopped in at a Fishing Farm Village with a difference... I had imagined a small village nestled into one of the many islands but instead all the local villagers live on the water in their floating homes (literally they are homes on the water, they are not living on boats). They even have a floating school which is funded by UNICEF. Many of the homes have dogs because they guard against anyone stealing the fish from their farm.

Later in the afternoon we headed back to Hanoi - we slept most of the way... being a tourist is tiring and it was better for the soul to sleep rather than watch the chaotic traffic on the 3.5 hour trip back.

Feel free to check out more sights of Halong Bay in my online photo album - click on the link below.

Halong Bay, North of Hanoi, Vietnam Album

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