A visit to Northern Vietnam is incomplete without a voyage to Halong Bay, one of the wonders of this planet. Listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, it hosts a constant stream of visitors from all over the world and yet maintains its mystery and tranquillity.
The legend of Halong, a word which means “Descending Dragon” in ancient Vietnamese, says that during the old time when the country was newly formed, Vietnamese had to fight against fierce invaders coming from the North through the sea. Feeling sorry for the country, The Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon and her children descending on earth to help the people defend the country.
While the mighty enemies were attacking the mainland, the Mother Dragon and her children suddenly appeared and incinerated the enemies with their divine fire and giant emeralds. The emeralds from the dragon’s mouth were scattered around the battlefield on the sea and formed an invincible defensive wall that left the enemy battleship fleet sinking. Thanks to the dragons, the Northern invaders were finally swept away and peace was finally restored to the country. After thousands of years, the wall of emerald turned into islands and islets of different sizes and shapes which constitutes the bay in modern times.
I could see traces of emeralds in the islands on the atmospheric day on which I visited and despite the constant flow of tourists in bamboo boats and kayaks, it was possible to experience (not just imagine!) The presence of the Dragon Mother and her offspring. A visit to the caves above the bay revealed mythical and magical creatures,-the phoenix, the sage and many others set in stone. This is a huge inner arena which was originally inhabited by hundreds of monkey families until it was discovered by humans in 1993.
At the end of this amazing day you couldn’t help but be touched by the powerful presence of the spirit of the sea and earth in this part of North Vietnam where dragons once ruled and now sleep