May 25th, 2014 by Cherié
The Bay of Dragons – Ha Long Bay
An orange, pinkish hue shimmers over the water, as the sun sets behind a grey, towering rock that is covered in green trees- rising up through the water like giants. There must have been hundreds of these rock formations emerging out of the ocean and towards the sky. Slowly the rocks move past the boat I am on.
Being back on a boat calms me, to float along down the bay with the ever changing scenery without a care in the world. It allows me time to truly embrace the fact that I am back in Vietnam, and the fact that I am seeing something new this time around. Last time I was here, I didn’t have enough time to see Ha Long Bay. Now I am here, crossing another place off my epic quest list.
The Bay of Dragons as they call it, large rocks form a half moon circle, descending and ascending from one rock to the next- as if it was dragon formed out of stone. Sleeping underneath the waters all these years… I cannot help but feel the lure of the lore, to believe in the stories that they believe in. Stories that has been passed down from generation to the next.
A slight breeze blows by as I look out in to the pitch black darkness, the orange, pinkish hue that once shimmered over the water has faded into black- yet what remains are the purple, green, blue and white lights from the boat’s “Golden Cruise” sign.
The rocking of the boat soothes me into a deep sleep. Making the four hour drive from Hanoi worth it. Hanoi seemed like a distant memory now, four hours on the road to the Bay of Dragons through winding roads, sleepy villages and green rice fields as far as the eye can see. Several shops all along the curb, clearly marketed towards tourists. The first of which, I walked in a large building, as if I am shopping at a outlet mall- trinkets, statues, wooden bowls all lined up on the shelves with the dinky fluorescent light hovering overhead. The air is musky, german, french, and american tourists wandered about with their own groups. At the first glance, there are stacks of paintings about a foot high, I brush through them, one was a silhouette woman on a bike with a bamboo hat, another of Ha Long Bay with the infamous orange sunset setting the scene. Each one was more intricate than the next, but then my fingers brushed along the painting, only to realize that these paintings were all embroidered with thread. Thread created a photo so realistic that you could swear it was a painting, full of color, down to every last detail to the flowers in the woman’s basket on the bike. Rows and rows of tables consisted of these threaded paintings, I couldn’t help but be in awe of such talent- such precision to create a masterpiece out of thread.
Waking up on the boat the next day with the sun rising over the glistening, calm waters…it was picture perfect- like something out of those threaded paintings. So surreal that I had to wonder to myself “Is this real life?”