June 3 - 9, 2018: Issue 362


Typical cliffs - a feature of the islands in Ha Long Bay.

By George Repin 

As the most popular tourist attraction in the north-east of Vietnam Ha Long Bay draws a steady stream of visitors the year round.  During February to April the weather is often cold and drizzly, and fog may reduce visibility, but still they come, attracted by the breathtaking views. Over 3000 islands rise from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin spread over 1500 sq kms.  In 1994 Ha Long Bay was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Tour boats are plentiful to carry visitors between and around the islands with the views constantly changing.  Tourists relax on the deck enjoying drinks or tasty Vietnamese food. . In addition to day trips visitors can stay on board overnight or longer.

Tour boats docked during the "off" season - waiting for tourists.

A tour boat in the Bay with fish farms in the distance.

A fish farm.

Relaxing on the deck enjoying the passing scenery.

Because of the nature of the rocks making up the islands there are thousands of caves of all sizes and shapes, many of which are accessible to visitors and some of which are illuminated.

Hand Dau Go (Grotto of Wooden Stakes) is a large cave made up of three chambers.  It is reached from a landing stage by 90 steps. Among the stalagmites of the lower (first) chamber there is what looks like an amusing group of gnomes appearing to hold a meeting. The walls of the second chamber sparkle when bright light is shone on them.  The name of the grotto is derived from the third chamber which, in the 13th Century CE was a store for sharp bamboo stakes used against Kubla Khan’s invasion fleet.

Landing stage at the foot of the steps up to the Grotto of the Wooden Stakes.

The first (lower) chamber of the Grotto.  The "meeting of the gnomes" in the right bottom corner.

The second chamber.

Tourists who have descended from  the Grotto moving to reboard their cruise boat.

Ha Long translates literally as “where the dragon descends into the sea”.  Legend has it that the islands were created by a giant dragon who lived in the mountains. As it ran towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out  valleys and crevasses; as it plunged into the sea the areas dug up by the tail filled with water leaving only the high land visible.

An old hotel in the area – the Ha Long Hotel – apparently was used as a retreat by Ho Chi Minh in his lifetime.  When the actress Catherine Deneuve was in Vietnam making the movie Indochine she was accommodated in Suite 208 of the hotel – the suite which previously had been used by the President.  

The Ha Long Hotel.

In the suite (208) which had been occupied by the actress Catherine Deneuve during the making of the film "Indochine".

(Photographs by George Repin in 2002)

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants  Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino  Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant  Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre   Around Angkor - 1963   Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross  The Oceaographic  Museum  in Monaco  The Island of Elba  Russian Fairy Tale Plates  Meteora  Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska Cloisonné  Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories  Not A Chagall!  Did You Listen? Did You Ask?  Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand  Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells  Murano  University of Padua Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi   Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park   Aphrodisias   The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre   Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island    ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997  Hotere Garden Oputae  Children of the Trobriand Islands  Page Park Market - Rabaul  Rabual   Kotor, Montenegro   Galleries of Photographs I   Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II   The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor   Delphi   Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"  Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia   Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter  Wieliczka Salt Mine  A Walk on Santorini  Indonesian Snapshots Ephesus - The Library of Celsus  Ephesus - Some Places Of Interest  Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley United Nations Headquarters 1958  A Miscellany of Flower Images  Gardens Bath St. David's In Wales   Zion National Park Nicholas Himona - Artist  Kraków  Lilianfels  Collonges-La-Rouge  Gingerbread Houses   Cape Sounion   Delos  Wroclaw  Colonial Williamsburg  Gruyères   Strasbourg  Coventry Cathedral  The Roman Theatre at Aspendos  Turkish Carpets The Duomo of Orvieto  Rovinj  The City Walls of Dubrovnik Monaco - Snapshots   Bonifacio, Corsica  Autumn in New England USA  The Great Ocean Road  Pompeii  Didyma  Lawrence Hargrave 1850-1915 The Corinth Canal  Malta  Snapshots of Amsterdam Café Central - Vienna  The Forbidden City - Beijing, China  A Ride on the Jungfrau Railway - 1954   Snapshots in the Highlands of Scotland 1954  Must See Sights in Paris - 1954  Corfu Reflections On the Nineteen Thirties The Gold Souk in Dubai  Stromboli 

Copyright George Repin 2018. All Rights Reserved.