Halong Bay

Beauty can neither be tarnished by the rain or the clouds. Such was my impression when I first saw the Halong Bay. It was a rainy day, the kind of rain one sees only in Vietnam, and we were soaked to our skins. And yet our spirits couldn't be lowered by the fact that we saw a side of halong bay not seen in tourist brochures and travel guides. In fact later I took it to be a blessing in disguise..

The islands usually jutting out from the sea were screened off by clouds and encounters with them possible only when we went closer to it in our rickety cheap travel boats.

Each had its own unique identity, each had its own characteristics.. My memory fails me in remembering their names but I remember the cheerful guide telling me there were some 500 of them, one of which was named 'Fighting cocks'.

It was almost surreal, cruising through some of the caves and one particular memory I still have with me is that of the Cave tour, where the guide pointed out some of the shapes that the Vietnamese had identified and named- each even had stories attached to it. The Romeo Juliet one, the tortoise and fisherman one, in particular are etched in my head..


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