Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hanoi - Halong Bay - Part 2

Part 2

Halong Bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin which includes about 1,600 island and islets forming a spectacular seascape of mature limestone karst pillar. From far, you would have a feeling of approaching an ancient kingdom, rich in nature. It became a new 7th Wonder of Nature, according to the Unesco Heritage website. The title was attributed to its sculpted by nature and a variety of coastal erosional features such as arches and caves which form a majestic natural scenery of clusters of conical peaks and isolated towers. The Unesco website adds that because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by human presence.

Personally, I was feeling awe and a proper word to express the sensation is to say a proper word to the Genius, the Creator behind all these creation (including creating us, a human being in form) is "Allahhuakbar", means God is Great and  MashaAllah and Alhamdulillah, both means a compliment and appreciation only to Allah for such beauty and for allowing me to witness a beautiful arrangement of the mature karst pillar in person (in allowing time and money spent). Islam and any other religions in the world is narrowing deep into a person's faith for believing in something which is invisible. Seeing these beauty is a way to see Him, i.e. through His creations which are visibly around us.

My apology for being so carried away with that. Anyway, Halong if translates to English carry a meaning “where the dragon descends into the sea” and legend has it that when the Vietnamese were fighting the Chinese invaders, the gods (means a mythological god) sent a family of dragons to help the Vietnamese defending their land. The family of dragons began spitting out of jewels and jade which subsequently turned into islands and islets dotting the bay linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. What we explored with our "White Dragon" boat was only 10% out of the whole huge bay coastal island and islet.

The symbol of Halong Bay (which is also a symbol of passionate love) is two chicken-shaped rocks of one “rooster” and one “hen” facing each other. Although they seem to be fighting each other, people often refer to it as “Kissing Rocks”. Kindly take note that the scenes from the James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" was filmed here. The Russian couple and I were trying to locate the rock statue but couldn't find it. Nevertheless, our guide informed about an islet that was on Dong200K which I'm sharing in below photo.

Although Vietnam has had her fair share of wars, the Vietnamese are very resilient, and from every nook and corner, woman power prevails. Women doing all kinds of work; as long as one had two wheels, business could be conducted. Would like to share a wisdom on man’s quotes; “We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us”, and secondly “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. When we reached at the floating village, we saw that mostly women partake in the business, i.e. the girl who pleasantly rowing us in her bamboo boat had to drop school as working there has given her family more security financially. Her sister and mother both are working in the same spot. 

The limestone in this bay has gone through 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 fauna species.

Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000 to 7000 BC, the Cai Beo culture 7000–5000 BC and the Hạ Long culture 5,000–3,500 years ago. Hạ Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bai Tho Mount, Dau Go Cave, Bai Chay.

500 years ago, Nguyen Trai praised the beauty of Hạ Long Bay in his verse Lo nhap Van Don, in which he called it "rock wonder in the sky". In 1962, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of North Vietnam listed Hạ Long Bay in the National Relics and Landscapes publication. In 1994, the core zone of Hạ Long Bay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site according to criterion vii, and listed for a second time according to criterion viii. Finally, I wish to share the rest of the magnificent view that Anne and I snapped during the boat adventures.

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