Ha Long Bay
The famous “Kissing Rocks”
A visit to Hanoi is not complete without making the journey to Ha Long Bay. Dubbed as Vietnam’s GuiLin, it has 1969 limestone monolithic islands said to be “jewels” spat out by a family of dragons which were sent by the Gods to help the Vietnamese against Chinese invaders. Legend aside, it’s indeed a scenic and picturesque Unesco World Heritage Site.
Our company arranged for us a 1 day tour aboard the Huong Hai Junk. The actual cruise is only about 4 hours as it takes 7 hours to travel to and fro Hanoi to Ha Long Bay. Yep, a very very long bus ride indeed. But it’s worth it as the view is indeed breathtaking. The cruise included a seafood lunch and we were ushered into the boothlike seats in groups of 4.
We started off with prawns and crabs. The prawns were simply sublime. Boiled fresh, it was quickly stir-fried with garlic in high heat before being served. Peel it and dip it in the lime & salt dip before having a bite. The freshness of the prawns were truly preserved. Even until today, my colleagues sigh with longing when they see the photo of these prawns. The crabs were just boiled, most probably straight from the aquarium they were kept in judging from the freshness. Once again, just dipped the flesh into the sourish, salty dip.
Once the stir-fried squid and sweet & sour fish were served, along came the rice. The sweetness of the big onions and carrots went well with the squid and we enjoyed this dish too. Even though the fish was rather good, we all agreed that it would have been better if it was steamed. Afterall, the best way to cook fresh fish is to steam it!
A gourd (chayote, I think) soup cooked with small shrimps and carrots and fried kangkung. We were very full by now, and could barely eat much of these. The kangkung or rau muong as the vietnamese called them were far too long to be cut properly so I gave up after a while.
Dessert was Vietnamese lychees. Even as we were on our way to Ha Long Bay, we passed by many lychee tree orchards. Saw the womenfolk selling them by the roadside, freshly picked. And at only USD1 for 3 kgs. What a bargain! Fresh & sweet. Love the lychees.
Quite a good lunch, and enjoyed the view immensely. All the green was rather refreshing. And it was a peaceful break away from the hustle & bustle, and especially, the crazy traffic in Hanoi. Should I go back the next time, I’ll be sure to try the overnight packages. Afterall, being cooped up in the bus for so many hours is no fun.