Halong Bay is one of those places I had always longed to visit, having seen plenty of photos of this famous destination. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the bay features thousands of limestone karst and isles in various shapes and sizes.
I finally had to chance to travel to this area earlier this year. The two-day cruise we picked was somewhat tacky, as one would expect, but the staff was charming and attentive. Boarding the cruise was like being on a tourist conveyor belt. On board, our cabin’s interior looked as if it was modelled on one of Liberace’s dressing rooms in Las Vegas, which we had a good laugh about. One thing I noticed in particular, which is often not mentioned on travel blogs and articles, is the level of pollution at sea due to the area’s over-dependence on tourism.
However, once we settled in and the cruise had sailed approximately 45 minutes from the harbour, I looked out the window and the view reassured me the reason I was there. I had heard that on a fine clear day it is stunningly picturesque. But during the trip it was foggy, just to my liking, and the vista was full of mystical beauty. The experience of being surrounded by mist and limestone formations blurs one’s sense of space and time. It was truly enjoyable relaxing on our private deck with mojito in hand, taking the view in. The kayaking trip to the local fishing village and meeting the oyster farmers was also a highlight.
After the trip I couldn’t help but have conflicting feelings. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel there, but I know I had contributed to the issue of pollution in the area, and I wish the local government would do more to ensure this natural beauty is preserved.
© 2016 Little Four Thirds | Ricky Lam