Let me clearly say, no pictures, videos and stories from friends who had visited, could ever prepare me for Halong Bay’s striking and unparalleled beauty and vegetative mountain’s panoramic views. Polychromatic seas, glistening and beaming the shy sun’s rays, had a mesmerizing effect on us and thousands of glorious limestones karst mini-islands surged over us, making us grasping our gaze and had us gushing with glee.
We decided to on-board the Oasis Bay Classic Cruise, and it was entirely worth it because right from the onset from the Tuan Chau Harbor, we felt treated as if regal! The cruise had its own Oasis Bay Lounge and the port and before boarding we were duly given refreshments, guidelines and instructions about our 2 day and 1 night itinerary. We were literally the only people on the cruise, barring a few others who were pleasant tourists like us and eager to head out to our high seas adventure.
Boarding a welcome drink, we were given safety instructions and taken to our designated boat rooms, which were clean, tidy and even somewhat royal! Luncheon and the deck and off we were to cruise past various limestones some which had historic significance, such as the symbol of Halong Bay called the Fighting Cock Islet. This islet is a symbol of faithful steady love. Thereon, we cruised to explore the wonders of Halong bay and Anchoring the vessels at the Frog Pond area.
Kayaking between caves and into the sunset!
Ok, I must admit, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be as fantastical as it was, because I have kayaked before … BUT, it turned out to be a wonderful experience, given the gorgeous backdrops, prismatic and motionless waters, crystal skies, quiescent spot and most importantly navigation through actual caves!
This lauded experience was better since I had my best friend accompanying me on my kayak, and the oncoming nightfall orchestrated the perfect vibe! I remember putting my hands in the ever-so-cold waters feeling almost purified – mind, body and soul, eager to immerse into it!
We kayaked through the Amazing and Luon Cave, and delighted back to our cruise, not really wanting to leave!
Oh sun, must you cast a spell on us before you leave
Once out of the waters, we dizzied ourselves with cocktails at the deck and were asked if we wanted to jump into what I call, The Holy Waters! While most were hesitant, gulping a few sips of Vodka, I took a spontaneous jump into the freezing waters and swam with others a few feet away from the cruise! Lying still on the seas, looking up to the heavens, my whole body was shaking and smiling at the same time, that I was grateful for these wondrous views, meditative tranquil and friends like family who planned this brilliant trip!
Post dinner, dancing and stargazing, we were welcomed to a morning Tai-Chi class on the deck as the peaks, watery waves & westerlies innately accompanied us float!
Inside a limestone cave, we learnt to stand affirmed through chaos & calm
After breakfast, we cruised and docked at to the Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave on Bo Hon Island. This cave is 25 meters above sea level and is spread across 10 thousand square meters. We hiked up and down 600 steps to this magnificent limestone formation of the most beautiful and biggest cave in Halong Bay!
Having been to extremely few caves, this was enlightening and also a reminder of nature’s infinite donations to earth. Tectonic plate movements along with intense rainy floods formed underwater mountains, which due to other severe weather dynamics rose limestones saw the firm stay of the Sung Sot Cave as of today.
Amongst the 1,969 sunken limestone towers submerged in the indigo waters of Halong Bay are a series of ancient caves and grottoes – many of which remained unexplored. Being a world-wonder, it attracts global tourists but it also significantly contributes to Halong Bay’s ecosystem. The entire cave is crowded with stalactites and stalagmites, serving as endless material for the legend and ‘lore of the area.
The cave is divided into two chambers - the “Waiting Room”., which is vast and lit by multicolored lights. The second chamber is known as the “Serene Castle” which has many interesting animal shaped rock formations and walks to explore, leads you seeing shapes that might not even exist! But, you can’t miss an eye-catching horse-shaped rock formation with a long-sword, which is linked to the legend of their local god protecting aggressors from invasions. Do spend at least 2 hours delving into the history, beauty and 3-D formations of these limestones, which can inspire you to remain firm, surrender to nature and exhibit various shapes over time!
After being deeply allured by both the Bay & the Cave, our overpowered yet content hearts, bid goodbye to the elegant robust limestones and grottos!