In the morning we take a bus to head towards Ha Long bay. It’s about four hours drive from Ha Noi. On arrival we jump onto our boat the Galaxy premium and set sail into the bay.
UNESCO world heritage protected the bay is absolutely beautiful. Even with the weather just being ok it’s a stunning sight. Ha Long bay means descending dragon bay, the 1600 “mountains” are limestone karts, varying in size and shape, and often seen as some king of animal. The limestone in the bay has gone though 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments.
“The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate.The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.
How did it come about? It underwent a phase of inverse-motion that created mountains deep under the water and due to tectonic activity, the Hạ Long area and the entire north-east region were raised from the depths. “Hạ Long Bay existed in the environment of a high mountainous mainland due to the influence of strong mountain-forming phases. These motions remain continuous and stable, while strong processes of erosion began, and after millions of years, a form of semi-highland topography took shape. The continuation of this erosion has progressively cut the highlands into blocks with altitudes similar to today’s mountains.”
One of many breeds of money in the bay.
Our boat! Very comfortable, food was excellent, crew were extremely helpful.
One of the many hidden lakes visible from a climb to the top of a hill.
We visited a pearl farm, there are two major pearl farms in Ha Long bay. We were shown around the farm and the museum there and explained how the process is done. You pass a floating raft where some kinds of oyster pearls are grown and transplanted such as South Sea pearl, Tahitian Black Pearl,…etc. After that you see a processing room where workers transplanting oysters and understand some precious species of pearl. At the end you see one of the workers opening a live oyster to see a pearl in side and then have look their achievement in the showroom.
Some more info…”Pearl farming depends largely on the sea’s environment. A polluted environment always leads to certain failure and other elements should also been taken into consideration like salinity and water depth, when raising different kinds of oysters. Under the right conditions, it takes at least five years before an oyster becomes mature enough to produce a pearl, and the success rate is about 40 percent, only a small percentage are of significant quality to fetch the very high prices. For pearls over 10mm, it might take up to seven or even ten years.
To cultivate the pearl, they open it just enough to insert a hard-shell bead and mantle tissue from an oyster that has produced a high-quality pearl in the past. Cultivation takes between 10 to 18 months and the results are truly stunning.” We saw that the quality varies a lot and will then depend on the final price.
On the Pearl farm
Lucky me I met some great guys, Katie and Luke a couple from England and Scotland, and Rachel and Jake from Australia.
The first day was around 28 people, with a very regimented itinerary with our control freak guide Nam!!, yes as in Viet Nam. The next day it was just the five of us, we were guided by Happy who was amazing. We went to the Pearl farm then went onto the quieter Cat Ba bay where we pulled up jumped into the Kayaks headed to a deserted beach and then swam. It was amazing, the beach was beautiful, the water was warm, and it felt like a holiday!
This is where we went swimming.
When we went Kayaking we pulled up at a Temple in this deserted bay. As we left Happy showed us the Snails on the rocks mixed in with the oysters. We started picking them, when we got back on the boat the captain washed them for two hours, then cooked them in garlic for us, very tasty! So I kayaked on both days, I love Kayaking it was s’mazing (my new word!), such freedom to visit the many hidden bays.
Rachel and Jake on their Kayak, once I have some pics of me I will add.
Jake on the empty beach.
Yes in the evening we had a few drinks! The guys were great fun and led me astray lol. next thing the entire boat has the Crown napkins on their heads. Next was karaoke, I was straight in their with the Abba CD, and may have slightly damaged the machine. Luckily Jake stepped in, qualified electrician! and sorted it out. Then we sang!! for quite a while…