Halong Bay – Bay of the Descending Dragon
After nearly a year in Hanoi, we finally decided to visit Halong Bay, as we had friends in town. Halong Bay means ‘Bay of the Descending Dragon’ in Vietnamese and is a stunning island chain made up of thousands of striking limestone karsts, which rise straight up out of the murky green sea. I spent three months in my gap year, ten years ago, doing baseline biodiversity surveys on a particularly large and remote island and so was familiar with the environment. Because of that experience, I was particularly keen to avoid the hundreds of boats that frequent the same trail of visiting countless caves. After much deliberating over which company/boat, we went with Indochine Junk, whose fleet have sole access to the slightly quieter edge of Bai Tu Long Bay. We had a lovely, if brief, trip on the Red Dragon. The only downsides are a rather arduous four-hour journey from Hanoi and the sad fact that all the formerly natural brown junk boats are now painted white (a recent new law).